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20 VOLUMES IN THE SERIES 


1. Folk Tales of Kashmir by Bani Roy Chaudhury 

2. Folk Tales of Tamil Nadu by K.A. Seethalakshmi 

3. Folk Tales of Assam by Mira Pakrasi 

4. Folk Tales of Orissa by Shanti Mohanty 

5. Folk Tales of Gujarat by Tara Bose 

6. Folk Tales of Bengal by Geeta Mazumdar 

7. Folk Tales of the Santhals by Indu Roy Chaudhury 

8. Folk Tales of Bihar by Mira Pakrasi 

9. Folk Tales of NEFA by B.K. Borgohain 

10. Folk Tales of Kerala by K. Jacob 

11. Folk Tales of Nagaland, Manipur & Tripura by B.K. 
Borgohain 

12. Folk Tales of Rajasthan by Bani Roy Chaudhury 

13. Folk Tales of Himachal Pradesh by K.A. Seethalakshmi 

14. Folk Tales of Mysore by K.M. Nair 
13. Folk Tales of Punjab by Ajeet Kaur 

16. Folk Tales of Madhya Pradesh 

17. Folk Tales of Uttar Pradesh 

18. Folk Tales of Andhra Pradesh 

19. Folk Tales of Maharashtra and Goa 

20. Folk Tales of Haryana 



FOLK TALES 

OF 

ORISSA 


SHANTI MOHANTY 



STERLING PUBLISHERS (P) LTD. 

NEW DELHI-16 JULLUNDUIW 



FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


STERLING PUBLISHERS (P) LTD. 
JuIlundur-3 : 695, Model Town 

New Delhi-16 : AB/9 Safdarjung 

Development Area 


First Edition 1 960 


PRINTED IN INDIA 

Published by Shri S.K. Ghai, Managing Director, Sterling Publishers (P) Ltd. 
and printed at Today & Tomorrow's Printers & Publishers, Fandabad, Haryana. 



GENERAL EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION 


Folklore in the different parts of India is a rich legacy for us. 
While researches in ancient and modern history have been directed 
r in recent decades more to the succession of kings and political 
shifts not much notice has been paid to the culture/ complex 
traditions and social beliefs of the common people. The sociologists 
have also to pay a good deal of attention to the customs and beliefs 
of the people and changes therein through the ages. They have 
rather neglected the study of folklore which a reliable index to 
the background of the people. There iias always been an 
easy mobility of folklore through pilgrimages, melas and fairs. 
The wandering minstrels, sadhus and fakirs have also dissemnated 
them. People of the North visiting the temples of the South and 
vice versa carry their folk-tales, songs, riddles and proverbs with 
them and there is an inconspicuous integration. The dharamsalas, 
inns and the Chattis (places of rest where the pilgrims rest and 
intermingle) worked as the clearing house for the folk tales, tradi- 
tional songs and riddles. That is why we find a somewhat common 
pattern in folk literature of different regions. The same type 
of folk tale will be found in Kashmir and in Kerala with slight 
regional variation. These stories were passed on from generation 
to generation by word of mouth before they came to be reduced 
to writing. 

Folklorists have different approaches to the appreciation of 
folklore. Max Muller has interpreted the common pattern in folk 
literature as evidence of nature-myths. Sir L. Gomme thought 
that a historical approach is the best for the study of folklore. But 
Frazer would rather encourage a commonsense approach and 
to him, old and popular folk literature is mutually interdependent 
and satisfies the basic curiosities and instincts of man. That folklore 
is a vital element in a living culture has been underlined in recent 
years by scholars" like Malinowski and Radcliffe Brown. 

It is unfortunate that the study of folklore in India is of 
very recent origin. This is all the more regrettable because the 
Panchatantra stories which had their origin in Bihar had spread 
through various channels almost throughout the world. As late as in 



8 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


1859, T. Benfey had held that there is an unmistakable stamp of 
Indian origin in most of the fairy tales of Europe. The same stories 
with different twists or complexes have come back to us through 
Grimm and Aesop and the retold stories are greedily swallowed 
by our children. That India has neglected a proper study of the 
beautiful motifs of our folk tales is seen in the fact that the two 
large volumes of the dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend 
published *by Messrs Funk and Wagnalls and Company of New 
York have given a very inadequate reference to India. 

What is the secret of the fascination of the folk tales 
that the old, the young and children are kept enthralled by their 
recitals ? The same story is often repeated but does not lose its 
interest. The secret is the satisfaction that our basic curiosity 
finds in the folk tales. The folk tales through phantasies, make- 
belief and complacent understanding help primitive man to 
satisfy his curiosity about the mysteries of the world and parti- 
cularly the very many inexplicable phenomena of nature around 
him. We have an element of primitiveness in our mind in spite 
of the advancement of science around us. Even a scientist finds 
great delight in the fairy tales of the moon being attacked as the 
origin of the lunar eclipse. Through the folk tales man exercised 
his once-limited vision and somehow or the other we would 
like to retain that limited vision even when we have grown up. 
The advancement in science can never replace the folk tales. On 
the other hand, folk tales have helped the scientific curiosity 
of men. In spite of the scientific explanation as to why earth- 
quakes take place, the old, the young and children would still 
be delighted to be told that the world rests on the hood of 
a great snake and when the snake is tired with its weight, 
it shakes the hood and there is an earthquake. Among the 
Mundas, an aboriginal tribe in Bihar, there is a wonderful expla- 
nation of the constellation Orion. The sword and belt of Orion, 
the Mundas imagined, form their appropriate likeness to the plough 
and plough-share which the supreme Sing Bonga God first shaped 
in the heavens and then taught people on earth how to use the plough 
and the plough-share. It is further said in the Munda folk tale that 
while the Sing Bonga was shaping the plough and the plough-share 
with a chisel and a hammer he observed a dove hatching its eggs at 
a little distance. The Sing Bonga threw his hammer at the dove to 



GENERAL EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION 


9 


bag tbe game. He missed bis mark and the hammer went over the 
dove’s head and hung on a tree. The hammer corresponds to the 
Pleiads which resembles a hammer. The Aldebaran is the dove 
and the other stars of Hyades are the eggs of the dove. Any 
illiterate Munda boy will unmistakably point out these star groups. 

Weather and climate have their own stories and are often 
connected with particular stages of the crops. The wet season 
and the hottest month are intimately associated with the ripening 
of crops or the blossoming of trees or the frequency of dust storms 
and stories are woven round them. But nothing is more satisfying 
as a folk story than the explanation of the phases of the stars, moon 
and the sun. A Munda would point out the milky way as the 
Gai Hora i.e. the path of the cows. The Sing Bongo God leads 
his cows every day along this path— the dusky path on the sky is 
due to the dust raised by the herd. The dust raised by th„- cows 
sends down the rains. A story of this type can never fail to 
sustain its interest in spite of all the scientific explanation of the 
astral bodies. 

The “why and therefore” of the primitive mind tried to 
seek an answer in the surrounding animal and plant kingdom. 
Animals are grouped into different categories according to their 
intelligence and other habits. The fox is always sly while the 
cow is gentle. The lion and the tiger have a majestic air while 
the horse is swift, sleek and intelligent. The slow-going 
elephant does not forget its attendant nor does he forget a man that 
teases him. Monkeys are very close to man. The peacock is gay 
while the crow is shrewd. The tortoise is slow-going but sure- 
footed. The hare is swift but apt to laze on the road. The pri- 
mitive mind has enough intelligence to decipher these inherent 
characteristics of the common animals he meets. Similarly, 
when he sees a large and shady peepal tree he naturally regards 
it as the abode of the sylvan god. The thick jungle with its trees 
and foliage is known to be frequented by thieves and dacoits. 
Any solitary hut in the heart of the forest must be associated with 
someone unscrupulous or uncanny. These ideas are commonly 
woven into stories and through them the primitive mind seeks to 
satisfy the eternal why and how of the mind. Folk literature is often 
crude and even grotesque. The stories of the witches and the 
ogres come in this category. There is nothing to be surprised 



10 


FOLK TALES OF - ORISSA 


at that. They reflect the particular stage of the development of the 
human mind and also are a projection of the beliefs and fads of the 
mind. Scientific accuracy should never be looked for in folk tales 
although folk tales are a very good reflex of the social developments 
of a particular time. 

It is enough if the basic ideas regarding the animal and plant 
kingdom still satisfy that the donkey is dense or stupid and the snake 
typifies slyness and the fox is deceitful. These ideas repeated in anci- 
ent folk tales have stood the test of time and this would show that the 
primitive mind was not foolish or credulous. The very idea that the 
folk tales have woven man, nature, animal and plant creation together 
shows the great flight of imagination and a singular development of 
mind. Introduction of moral lessons or any dogma was not done 
as an after-thought but came in as a very natural development. 

The last source of the folk tales is human society itself. The 
elemental moorings that are at the root of human society are sought 
to be illustrated in folk tales. The day-to-day life of the common 
man finds its full depiction in the folk tales. Parental love, family 
happiness, children’s adventurous habits, love and fear of the 
unknown, greed etc. are some of the usual themes of folk tales. 
The common man yearns for riches and comforts he cannot usually 
look for. He dreams of riches, princes, kingdoms etc. and finds 
satisfaction in stories of fantasy. Men love gossip and scandal. 
Women cannot keep secrets, children will love their parents, a 
mother-in-law will always think the daughter-in-law needs to 
be told what to do — these are some of the basic ideas that make up 
much of our daily life. The folk tales are woven round them and 
whether fantastic or with a moral undertone they only reflect 
the daily chores, tears and joys of the common man. 

Unknowingly, the folklorists bring in the religious customs, 
beliefs, food habits, modes of dress, superstitions etc. and thereby 
leave a picture of the culture-complex of the region and its people. 
A tribid story does not picture a king riding a white big foaming 
horse followed by hundreds of other horsemen going for a shikar. 
In a tribal story the Raja will be found cutting the grass and bringing 
back a stack of it to feed his cows, but a folk tale more current 
in urban areas will have large palaces, liveried-servants, ministers 
and courtiers in the king’s court. All this only means that the time 
and the venue of the origin of the stories are widely different. It 



GENERAL EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION 


11 


is here that the sociologists and the anthropologists come in useful. 
As life is different in rural and urban areas or is chequered with 
goodness or badness in the world so is folk literature diversified, 
as it must be, being a replica of life. 

It is a pity that these beautiful folk tales in India were almost 
on the point of disappearance when a few pioneers mostly consisting 
of foreign missionaries and European scholars looked into them and 
made compilations in different parts of India. Our present run 
of grandmothers know very little of them. The professional story 
tellers who were very dearly sought after by the old and the young, 
not to speak of the children, have almost completely disappeared 
from India. The film industry and the film s vugs pose a definite 
threat to folklore. 

The Sterling Publishers arc to be congratulated for launching 
the project of publishing a compilation of 20 volumes consVting 
of the folk talcs of different regions . The work- has been entrusted 
to specially selected writers who have an intimate knowledge of 
their region. The regional complex of the stories has been sought 
to be preserved as far as possible. The stories have an elemental 
involvement about them and they are such as are expected to 
appeal to the child and its parents. We expect the reader of the 
folk tales of the particular region to feel after reading the 
stories, that he has enjoyed a whiff of the air of that area. We 
want him to have an idea of how Kashmiri folks retire in wintry 
night with the Kangri under the folds of their clothes to enjoy a 
gossip and how they enjoy their highly spiced meaty food. We 
want him to appreciate the splash of the colours of the sari and the 
flowers that are a must in Tamil Nadu. We want him to know the 
stories that are behind some of the famous temples in the South such 
as the Kanjeevaram temple. We want him to know the story regard- 
ing the construction of the famous Konarak temple. We want him to 
enjoy the stories of the heroes of Gujarat, Punjab and Rajasthan in 
their partic ular roles. We want the reader to have an idea of the 
peace and quiet of a hut in the lap of the Kumaon hills. We want 
the reader to enjoy some of the folk tales of Bengal and Bihar that 
have found wings in other parts of India and to appreciate the 
village life with its Alpana and Bratas. At the same time we want 
the reader to appreciate the customs and manners of the Santhals, 
Garos, and the other tribes inhabiting Nefa and Assam. 



12 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


The Publishers want to have a miniature India in these volumes 
of folk tales of the different regions of India. It is an ambitious 
project. The authors have to be thanked for their interest in the 
work. I am sure they have enjoyed the assignment. It is hoped 
the books will be found useful and interesting to the public. I 
have no hesitation in saying that the stories of the different areas do 
make out a miniature India. It is hoped the reader will enjoy the 
stories and will come to know a little of the region and its 
people. 


P.C. Roy Chaudhury 



PREFACE 


Folk Tales are popular and numerous in Orissa. But few, till 
now, have been written in English. I have attempted to present 
only some of the popular folk tales of Orissa. 

Many of the folk tales which have come down to us in this 
generation, have an ancient origin. These tales have no authors 
as authorship is now understood. They were not written out as 
books and were transmitted orally. This was a popular and 
effective vehicle for their dissemination at a time when illi- 
teracy was widely prevalent. Often, these stories were nai rated 
by pilgrims to one another in their long ■ journeys. Some- 
times, they were narrated in the temple courtyards, where the village 
folk gathered in large numbers on festive occasions. But perhaps, 
the most common vehicles of transmission were the grand- 
mothers. Their intense faith in the reality of the stories contributed 
largely to their existence even to this day. The grandchildren, 
with gaping mouths, listened in wonder and the stories never faded 
from their memories. 

As might be expected, the tales went through different 
variations and adopted different local colours as they passed from 
person to person and from generation to generation. It is not sur- 
prising to note that more or less similar stories are prevalent even 
in distant states of India, owing mostly to the fact that pilgrims 
from different parts of this large country often congregated at the 
famous all-India pilgrimage centres, especially at Puri. 

Orissa’s civilization and culture go back to very ancient times. 
Owing to a series of factors, this ancient land remained in compara- 
tive poverty and its ancient glory was little known to modern civili- 
zation. The rivers with their periodical floods and the frequent 
droughts have put the country to various hardships. Superstition 
was a factor in the life of the people. Men feared the unknown 
and attributed many things to the supernatural. Misfortunes and 
sorrows were attributed to the wrath of the gods. The folk tales 



14 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


of Orissa project the* hardships, fears, struggles, superstition and 
poverty of the people. 

The Oriyas were great builders of temples and the land is full of 
beautiful temples. This fact, too, has influenced some of the stories. 

The folk tales of Orissa are distinctive in character inasmuch 
as many of the stories depict Orissa’s ancient trade with far off lands 
like Java, Sumatra, Bali etc. Therefore, merchants, boats and 
maritime trade occur in quite a number of the stories. 

Here it would be only fair to mention that Orissa’s gratitude is 
due to the labours, in recent times, of Sri Gopal Chandra Praharaj, 
Dr. Kunja Behari Das, Sri Sridhara Das and others, who have 
collected and compiled some of the folk tales. Perhaps, a good 
many of these stories would have disappeared, but for the labours 
of these pioneers. 


SHANTI MOHANTY 



CONTENTS 


Pages 


1. Why Dharmapada Sacrificed His Life .. .. 17 

2. Thb Kino Who Was Called a Sweeper . . 25 

3. Sudarsan Gains Wisdom After Many Ex- 

periences 32 

4. Why a British Captain Bowed Before a Rebel Chief 37 

5. A Rani’s Revenge 41 

6. The Cowherd And The Witch 45 

7. Tapoyee ' .. 51 

8. The Conch Shell 59 

9. The Mahajan’s Sons 62 

10. Nothing Is Lost If God Saves . . . . 69 

11. A Noble Sacrifice 73. 

12. How Kasia Met Kapila 76 

13. A Lazy Brahman And What Happened To Him 80 

14. What God Allows Is For Man’s Good . . 84 

15. Why The Miser Lost His Wealth . . . . 87 

16. The Story Of Ramdhol 92 

17. Four Rules Of Conduct 97 

18. Man’s Destiny Is Not In His Hands .. .. 104 

19. Punishment For Breaking A Vow .. .. 107 

20. The Two Friends - 111 




1 


WHY DHARMAPADA SACRIFICED 

HIS LIFE 

O RTSS A is the land of many splendid and 
gracious temples. The finest of the temples is that 
of Konarka. This temple was built by Narasimha 
Deva, a great king who ruled in Utkal 1 hundreds of 
years ago. It took twelve hundred artisans twelve 
long years to build this temple. The King had chosen 
the best artisans of the land for this work. He had 
ordered that none of the builders coi Id visit his home 
until the temple was completed. 

The chief architect of the temple was Bisu 
Maharana. When Bisu left home to work on the 
temple, his wife was expecting a child. Some months 
later a son was bom to him, but the father was not 
allowed to leave his work and go home to see his 
newly-born son. 

Twelve years rolled by, yet Bisu could not see 
his son. In the meantime, the lovely baby grew up 
into a handsome boy. His mother adored him and 
bestowed great care on his upbringing. She named 
him “Dharmapada” and sometimes, lovingly called 
him “Dharma”. She took care to see that her son 
learned the craft of his forefathers. She taught him 
the art of temple-building. Even as a child Dharma- 
pada showed keen interest in this art. He spent hours 
building toy temples and forts in stone or wood. 
Those who saw his handiwork, wondered at his skill. 
They said that Dharma would one day become a great 
architect. 

When he was five years old, he was sent to the 
village school. The boy had a keen intellect and 


1. Another name for Orissa, 



18 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


quickly learnt his lessons. His teachers liked him, 
his friends loved him, but there were some boys who 
were jealous of him. 

One day, in the school, as the boys were writing, 
Dharma’s chalk slipped from his fingers and rolled 
away from him. He asked one of his class-mates 
to pick it up for him. The boy not only refused to 
pick it up but also insulted Dharma. “Who are 
you to order me? Whose son do you think you are?” 
he asked rudely. A few other boys joined together 
and said, “Yes, yes. Tell us your father’s name. 
Have you ever seen him?*' Dharma was confused. 
He did not know what to say. The boys teased him, 
“Oh, no, you have no father,” and they laughed at 
him. Poor Dharmapada felt insulted and returned 
home sad. 

His mother was worried to find the son in a 
sorrowful mood. “Why are you so sad, my child?” 
she asked. “Ever since your father left home to 
build the temple at Chandrabhaga 1 you have been 
the only joy in my life. Tell me truly, what grieves 
you?” 


“Mother, I have never seen my father. Why 
does he not come home? Today my class-mates 
insulted me by saying I have no father,” replied 
Dharmapada in anguish. 

“What! You have no father! Who dare 
say so ? Believe me, your father is the chief architect 
of the finest temple that is being built. I have told 
you this before. You belong to a noted family of 
builders. They have built many temples and fortresses 
in this land of Utkal. Anyone should be proud of 
such ancestry,” said his mother. 


1. The ancient name of the place Konarka. In olden times it was a famo us 
place of pilgrimage. 



WHY DHARMAPADA SACRIFICED HIS LIFE 19 

“Oh mother, I know the boys at school are 
jealous of me. Now I understand. But please tell 
me more about my father and my forefathers.” 

“Listen, my child, your forefathers helped in the 
building of the great temple of Jagannath at ‘Srikhetra’ 1 . 
When the temple was completed, they were rewarded 
by King Indradyumna. Years later, when Emperor 
Kharavela had the beautiful caves at Khandagiri 
carved out of rocks, it was your forefathers who did 
the work. Again, King Lalatendu Deva engaged 
your ancestors to build the great temple of Shiva 
at ‘Ekamrakanana’ 2 . Years later your grand- 
father went to repair the ‘Barabati’ 3 fortress at ‘Katak’. 
He died there before the work was completed a id he 
never returned home. You belong to the family of 
such famous builders, who have left their mark on 
all the beautiful temples and forts of Utkal.” 

“Oh mother, I wish to prove worthy of my an- 
cestors,” said Dharma, glowing with pride. “Now, 
tell me about my father and the work he is doing.” 

“Your father has been engaged by our great 
King Narasimha Deva. He is the chief among the 
artisans. The King has ordered that none of the 
builders should leave the temple area and visit their 
homes until the temple is built. Your father, there- 
fore, has not been able to see you. He is building 
a great temple dedicated to the Sun god at Chandra- 
bhaga on the seacoast. Chandrabhaga is a holy 
place to which many go on pilgrimage. They say 
that the temple is nearing completion and I hope your 
father will soon return home.” 


1. Another name for Puri, the holy city of Jagannath. 

2. Ancient name for Bhubaneswar, the present capital of Orissa. 

3. An old fort at Cuttack now, in ruins, 



20 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Dharma became impatient. “Mother,” he said, 
“I want to go to Chandrabhaga to see my father and 
the temple he is building. It will also be a pilgrimage 
for me to the holy place. I shall not stay there long. 
I shall bring news of father to you. Mother, won’t 
you let me go?” 

She, at first, would not consent to this. But 
when she found that he had set his heart on going, she 
could not refuse him. Before Dharma set out on 
his journey, his mother blessed him and said, “May 
the gods protect you from all danger and enable you 
to meet your father.” She added, “Take these berries 
from our garden. Your father likes them. This 
will also be a token by which your father will know 
you. These berries are grown only in our garden.” 

With his mother’s blessings, Dharma set out on 
the journey towards Chandrabhaga. Though he was 
young and the way was unknown to him, he travelled 
on bravely. As he neared the seacoast, his heart 
thrilled with joy at the sight of the sand-dunes and the 
tall casurina trees. When the wind blew, the leaves 
seemed to whisper to him words of welcome. He 
heard the roar of the breakers as they washed the 
sandy shore. The fishermen were busy unloading 
the day’s catch. The sea-gulls hovered over the boats 
and the air was filled with the shrill cries of the birds 
and shouts of the fishermen. As he walked further, 
he got a glimpse of the magnificent temple from 
a distance. The blue sea with its mighty waves 
and the beautiful temple by its side filled him with 
wonder. 

When he came nearer, he found the place bustling 
with activity. Workmen with tools in their hands 
were chiselling huge stones, carving out figures on 
them, others were lifting stones and fixing them; 



WHY DHARMAPADA SACRIFICED HIS LIFE 21 

all were busy with their work. Dharmapada did 
not know anyone there. He was at a loss how to 
find his father in that crowd. He went about asking 
for Bisu Maharana. It did not, however, take him long 
to find his father. He made himself known to his 
father, gave him the berries and gave him news of 
home. 

Bisu was delighted to meet his son, whom he had 
longed to see in those many years. He took Dharma 
by his hand and showed him around the temple, 
describing to him the many deta'is of the work. 
Dharma saw the magnificent temple ouilt in the shape 
of a chariot. The mighty wheels of the chariot v-ore 
artistically carved with designs. The stone houses 
drawing the chariot looked so real. Every stone was 
adorned with beautiful carvings. The sculptured 
figures of men and women, of elephants and horses, 
of musicians and dancing girls, looked so life-like 
to Dharmapada that he gaped at them with wonder. 

His father explained to him, “This temple has 
been built to the Sun god. The King wants to make 
it a wonder of the world, so that many would come 
from far and near to offer worship to the Sun god and 
admire its beauty.” Bisu continued, “The building 
work has already taken twelve years and the temple 
is not yet complete. The King is anxious to have 
it finished soon. His dream has come true except 
for the crown stone which remains to be fixed on 
the temple. We have been working hard to fix it, 
but all our efforts have failed. Every time it is placed 
on the top, it has fallen down. There must be some 
mistake somewhere. Yesterday, the King in his impa- 
tience and anger commanded that the temple should 
be completed within three days, or else, all the artisans 
would be put to death. Today after sunset, the artisans 
are meeting together to discuss what should be done. 
I don’t see much hope and the time is very short. 
We are at our wit’s end.” 



11 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Dharmapada felt sad to see his father and his 
kinsmen in distress. He begged his father for per- 
mission to be present at the meeting. 

In the meeting various opinions were put forth. 
They were discussed, but none seemed workable. 
At last, Dharmapada stood up and with folded hands 
addressed the gathering. “Sirs, I have something 
to say if you will deign to hear me. 1 think 1 can be 
of service. Please do not spurn at my age. I hope 
to set aright the crown stone on the temple top. I 
only beg you to give me a chance.” 

They were all amazed to hear the lad speak thus. 
Some said, “What! Where we with all our skill and 
experience have failed, how can a mere lad succeed? 
He is boasting.” 

Some others said, “Let us not stand on our 
pride, but give the boy a chance. As it is, we have 
failed. We have nothing to lose by giving him a 
chance.” 

To this some others replied, “Why? Wc have 
everything to lose. When it is known that twelve 
hundred artisans failed to fix the crown stone, and 
a lad from nowhere came along and did the job, what 
will people say of us? Where will our dignity be? 
When this reaches the King’s ears, do you think he 
will spare our lives ?” 

At last an old artisan said, “In either case, we 
stand in danger of our lives. Even if a boy from 
among us succeeds, our caste will still be held in 
esteem. But, if the temple remains incomplete, 
remember, this race of builders will for ever remain 
in disgrace. Let us put aside our pride and leave 
the work in his hands.” The old artisan’s words 
appealed to all and they decided to let Dharmapada try. 



WHY DHARMAPADA SACRIFICED I1IS LIFE 


23 


Early the next day, Dharma went round the 
temple looking closely into the details of its struc- 
ture. He spent hours studying the different parts 
of the temple After a while, he climbed up to the 
temple top and worked on the capital far into the 
night. The twelve hundred artisans had no sleep 
that night. They were anxiously waiting for the 
result. At the first peep of day, to the amazement 
of all, the crown top became visible from its height. 
Dharmapada came down with his face beaming with 
joy. His father ran towards him and embraced him. 
The artisans soon surrounded hir.* and showered 
blessings on him. Although they v,ere happy to see 
the temple completed, their joy was not unmixed 
with sorrow. Sensing this, Dharmapada enq ured 
why they still looked sad. 

“May you live long, and may your deed be 
ever remembered. But your achievement will not 
remain a secret. The King will surely hear of it. You 
will be rewarded, but our fate is sealed,” they 


m 


24 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Dharmapada was sad to hear this. '“What 
does it profit me”, he said, “when I am rewarded and 
my kinsmen suffer death? This wonderful temple 
is your creation. I only fixed the lop stone at the 
very end. I am not worthy of any reward.” So 
saying Dharmapada left their presence. 

He thought, “Of what use is my life when my 
kinsmen suffer on my account? So let a single life 
be sacrificed for the good of many.” Before the 
first rays of the sun fell on the temple capital, Dharma- 
pada climbed up to the temple top and from there 
jumped to his death. 

Dharmapada is no more. The famous temple 
is still there, in ruins. The children of Orissa love 
to hear his story and cherish his memory. Dharma- 
pada has become immortal by sacrificing his life. 


••• 



2 

THE KING WHO WAS CALLED A SWEEPER 

O N the coast of Orissa where the waters of the 
Bay of Bengal wash its shores, there stands a 
great temple, which is known as the Temple of 
Jagannath. Pilgrims from far and near come to wor- 
ship at this temple at Puri. But during the Ratha 
Jatra festival, thousands of pilgrims crowd into the 
city to see the Jatra. This festival is held every year 
in the month of Asadh. The imagi of Jagannath 
and the images of Balabhadra and Subhadra, his 
brother and sister, are taken out in procession. Th 1 ee 
huge wooden chariots are built and colourfully de- 
corated for this festival. The pandas 1 bring the 
idols from the temple and put them in the rathas or 
chariots. The pilgrims pull these cars all the way 
along the wide Bada Danda 2 , a couple of mi|es away 
to the garden house. There the idols remain for a 
week, after which they are pulled back in the chariots 
to the main temple. 

Some hundreds of years ago, there ruled in 
Orissa, a king by name Purushottam Deva. He was 
a devout king and an ardent devotee of Jagannath. 
He was also noted for his humility. He considered 
his kingdom as belonging to Jagannath and himself 
merely a servant ruling in his stead. 

At the Ratha Jatra festival, it was the custom 
for the Kin g to take a broomstick with a golden handle 
and sweep the floors of the cars of the deities. This 
was so, because King Purushottam regarded himself 
to be a sevaka or a servant of the gods. Not until 
he performed this duty that the cars were drawn by 
the people. 


1. Priests. 

2. The Grand Road at Puri. 



26 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


To the south of the land of Utkal, there lay in 
those days, the kingdom of Kanchi. King Purushottam, 
in his exploits in the southern regions, had seen Padma- 
vati, the beautiful daughter of the king of Kanchi. 
He had fallen in love with her and wanted to make 
her his queen. He sent a proposal to the King of 
Kanchi for the hand of his daughter. Padmavati’s 
father not only agreed to the proposal but at the 
invitation of Purushottam, came to Orissa to witness 
the Ratha Jatra. 

During the Jatra, the two kings sat on the terrace 
of the royal palace, close to the temple, and watched 
the ceremonies. The road from the temple to the 
garden house was thickly crowded with thousands 
of pilgrims. With the blowing of conch-shells and 
the shouts of rejoicing by the vast crowd, the three 
images were brought out from the temple and put 
on the chariots reserved for each of them. While 
all this was being done, the two kings were busily 
engaged in conversation. Purushottam was explain- 
ing the ceremonies to the Ruler of Kanchi. 

“Tell me, who built this temple and who started 
the worship of Jagannath here?” the King of Kanchi 
asked. 

“This great temple that we see before us, was 
built by King Indradyumna,” answered Purushottam 
Deva. He continued, “Indradyumna completed the 
building of the temple, but there was no god to be 
enshrined in it. Then, he saw in a dream, Nilamadhava, 
the God of the ‘Savaras’ 1 . King Indradyumna wanted 
to enshrine the god in the new temple. He sent Bidya- 
pati, his minister, to the Savara village to get the image 
of Nilamadhava. Bidyapati went and dwelt in the 
house of Biswabasu, the Savara chief, and married 


1. An aboriginal tribe of Orissa. 



THE KING WHO WAS CALLED A SWEEPER 27 

his daughter, Lalita. The Savaras worshipped 
Nilamadhava in secret in a shrine hidden deep in the 
forest. No stranger was allowed there. So, Bidyapati 
did not know how he could ever reach the shrine of 
Nilamadhava. He took the help of Lalita, who 
induced her father to take him to the shrine. But, 
Bidyapati was first blindfolded and then led to the 
secret shrine. The minister, however, was equal to 
the occasion and had secretly carried with him a 
handful of mustard seeds. These, he dropped little 
by little as he went along on the way. At the shrine, 
in great excitement, he saw the image of Nilamadhava 
in the form of a deep blue stone. Again he was 
blindfolded and brought back. Bidyapati returned 
and reported everything to King Indradyumna. 

“Patiently, Indradyumna and his minister wait- 
ed till the season came for the mustard seeds to blossom. 
Then, Bidyapati took the King with him to the Savara 
village. The golden llowers clearly pointed the way 
and with no difficulty they came to the hidden shrine.” 

The King of Kanclii, who was listening intently, 
became curious and enquired, “Now, tell me. Is 
Nilamadhava the same God as Jagannath?” 

“Yes,” replied Purushottam, “he is the very 
same God, but now worshipped in a different form. 
This is how it happened.” 

He continued, “At the shrine, that night, 
Nilamadhava once again appeared in a dream before 
King Indradyumna. He said, ‘Oh King! Hear my 
words and fail not to carry out my will. I am 
tired of this place. I do not desire to stay here any 
longer. Their fruit offerings, made day after day, 
do not satisfy me. I long for sweetmeats and food 
that is cooked. Again, I do not desire to be worshipp- 
ed here as Nilamadhava. I should hereafter be known 



28 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


as Jagannath. You will find a log of wood 'floating 
in the sea near Nilachala. My image should be cut 
out of this log and enshrined in the new temple you 
have just built.’ The King woke up from his dream 
and strangely enough found that the blue stone had 
vanished. 

“Indradyumna and his minister hastened to ful- 
fil the will of the God. Sure enough they found, as 
in the dream, the log of wood floating near the coast 
of Nilachala. The King had the log taken out of 
water. He searched for a skilled carpenter who 
could fashion out an image of Jagannath. Many 
carpenters came but the moment they tried to cut 
the log, their chisels broke into pieces. At last an 
old carpenter, named Ananta Maharana, came and 
assured the King that he would get the image ready 
in twenty-one days. He made a condition that he 
should be locked up with the log in a room for twenty- 
one days. During this period he should not be dis- 
turbed and the doors should remain locked. This 
was done. Daily the curious King and others went 
near the locked room and heard the sound of wood- 
work going on inside. But a few days before the 
allotted time no sound was heard from within. The 
King grew anxious because he feared that the old 
carpenter who had no food and water must have 
died. In great anxiety the King got the doors opened 
and to his surprise found no carpenter inside. There 
were only three unfinished images.” 

“Therefore,” Purushottam continued, “the 
images were enshrined in their unfinished form and 
are worshipped as such till now. This is how Jagan- 
nath, fialabhadra and Subhadra came to be worshipped 
here in the temple.” 

King Purushottam had just finished the long 
narrative when it was time for him to go down ana 



THE KING WHO WAS CALLED A SWEEPER 29 

sweep the floors of the chariots of the deities. As 
he swept the cars one after the other, people loudly 
cheered him. But the sight of a king doing the work 
of a sweeper did not please the Ruler of Kanchi. He 
was filled with contempt for King Purushottam. 

Soon after the Rat ha Jatra, the King of Kanchi 
returned to his country. He did not lose any time 
in sending word to the Ruler of Utkal that he would 
not give his daughter in marriage to a chandala l . 

Purushottam was enraged. He took it as an 
insult not only to himself but also to his God Jagannath, 
and he vowed revenge. 

War was declared by Purushottam against Kanchi. 
In the war Purushottam was defeated. Next year 
he again declared war against Kanchi and this time 
he invoked the help of the gods. He marched with 
his hosts and before he had gone far, a milkmaid 
by name Manika 2 met him in a village. 

“Two of your men on horseback went ahead. 
One of them rode on a black horse and the other on 
a white horse. The men were thirsty and bought 
buttermilk from me. They had no money to pay 
with and they gave me this ring to be shown to you. 
They asked me to take money from you,” she said. 

The moment the King saw the ring, he knew 
that it belonged to Jagannath. He was now sure that 
the riders were none other than Jagannath 
and Balabhadra who had gone ahead to fight for him. 
He took it as a sure sign of victory. Purushottam 
boldly marched forward with his army. This time, 
he defeated the King of Kanchi and brought Padmavati 

1. Sweeper. 

2. There is, today, a village called Manikapatna, named after the milkmaid, 
Manika, where this incident took place. 



30 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


a captive. In his anger, the King refused to marry 
her but resolved to teach her proud father a lesson. 

“Her father had called me a chandala. Take 
her and marry her to a chandala. See that she 
becomes the wife of a low caste sweeper,” he angrily 
ordered his minister. 

Though the minister was grieved to hear this, 
lie humbly replied, “The King’s order will be carried 
out.” 


But the kind minister did not marry Padmavati 
to a sweeper. Instead he took her to his own home 
where he and his wife took care of the princess as 
their own daughter. They were, of course, careful 
to keep it a secret from the King. 

Months passed by. At the next Ratha Jatra 
festival, the King went up the chariot of Jagannath 
to sweep its floor as usual. Just then, his minister 
came up with Padmavati, and addressing the King said, 








THE KING WHO WAS CALLED A SWEEPER 


31 


“Oh my King, you had asked me to marry princess 
Padmavati to a chandala. Where can I find a more 
suitable chandala than your worthy self to marry 
her? Sir, here is this beautiful princess. Make her 
your queen. It has taken me some time to carry 
out your order. Now I am fulfilling your desire. 
May the gods bless you and make you both happy.” 

The King had all along truly loved Padmavati 
and was rejoiced at the clever plan of his minister. 
He forgot all his anger against the Ruler of Kanchi 
and married his daughter with great romp and show. 

Even to this day, the descendants of Purushottam 
and Padmavati continue to perform the duties r.-i a 
sweeper of the deities at every Ratha Jatra festival. 
The Raja of Puri sweeps the floor of the temple in 
the presence of thousands of onlookers. 



3 

SUDARSAN GAINS WISDOM AFTER MANY 

EXPERIENCES 

S UDARSAN was a high caste Brahman of Banapur. 

Whenever there was any religious ceremony in the 
village Sudarsan was called for. There was hardly 
a marriage or sacred thread ceremony where he was 
not seen. He earned his living by acting as a priest 
in these ceremonies. But the village was small and 
such ceremonies were few and far between. So 
Sudarsan was often in want. 

One day, he was invited by a rich man from a 
neighbouring village to act as priest in his daughter’s 
wedding. After the marriage was over, Sudarsan 
received gifts of money, clothes and large quantity of 
rice grains and some coconuts. He had never before 
been paid so well. 

Sudarsan joyfully returned home with the treas- 
ure. He was fond of good food and he liked 
pithas' best of all. He told his wife, “I have been 
longing to eat pithas. Now you have everything 
here for making them. Please make some, and we 
will eat to our heart’s content.” 

His wife soon became busy making preparations 
for the pithas. After they were ready, Sudarsan’s 
wife set before him a plateful of rice-cakes. Sudarsan 
was about to eat, when there came a piteous cry 
from outside, “Mother,” cried a beggar, “I am dying 
of hunger. Have pity on me and save my life. For the 
last two days, I have had no food.” His cry fell on 
the ears of Sudarsan just as he was going to have the 
first bite of the rice-cake. Though very hungry, his 


1. Rice-cakes. 



SUDARSAN GAINS WISDOM AFTER MANY EXPERIENCES 33 


heart melted. Too well he knew the pangs of hunger. 
Straightway, he got up with all the cakes and put them 
in the beggar’s bowl. The beggar was more like a 
skeleton than a living being and hastily swallowed 
the delicious food. He wiped his face and blessed 
the Brahman. “Long have I been wandering from 
door to door but no one had pity on me. I went 
to many big houses, yet no one gave me one morsel. 
But you saved my life. May your riches grow 
day by day. May want never come to your door.” 
Then he looked around and seeing none, added, 
“Follow me, sir, I can do somethin'; for you.” 

The beggar led the way and the Brahman follow- 
ed. They walked on and came to a forest. " hey 
kept on walking deep into the thick bushes. The 
tall trees all around looked like so many ghosts mock- 
ing at the Brahman with their empty stomachs. A little 
while later, he could walk no more and wearily, al- 
most slumped to the ground. 

But what was this ! The beggar had vanished ! It 
all looked so unreal to Sudarsan. All of a sudden 
the beggar appeared again before him with a pan 
in his hand. “Take this pan, sir,” he announced, “and 
ask it whatever food you want and whenever you 
want it.” So saying he disappeared. 

It all seemed so strange, so wonderful. Sudarsan 
then looking at the pan’ said, “Give me some pit has," 
and lo, the delicacies were right before him. Joyfully, 
the Brahman ate them and then went back home re- 
joicing, with the pan in his hand. All the way, he 
was thinking in his mind how much his dear wife 
would rejoice at this wonderful gift. 

On the way, he felt thirsty and put the treasured 
pan at the foot of a tall tree. A group of boys were 
playing nearby and looking at the boys he said, “Keep 



34 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


an eye on this pan. But boys, I warn yqu, don’t 
ask it to give you any food.” He went ahead a little 
to a brook to drink water. 

But boys are boys. They were most curious 
at this strange warning. The moment the Brahman 
was out of sight, looking at the pan, they all, in one 
voice, asked, “Oh pan, give us sweets”. To their 
great joy there were before them the best sweets 
they had ever tasted. Quickly, they ate up all the 
sweets. But how could they leave behind a treasure 
which would always provide such wonders. They 
put another pan in its place and carried the magic 
pan to their home. 

After drinking water, Sudarsan came back to 
the tree and walked home with the pan. On reaching 
home, he told his wife all about their good fortune. 
“You will be like a Rani, and I, a Raja, eating sweet- 
meats and the best cakes all the day long! Do you 
know this ‘pan’ will give us whatever we like to eat 
and in plenty too? Take it and ask it right now 
what you like to eat.” But when they asked the pan 
for gifts of food, nothing happened. All their dreams 
had gone. Without any food, they spent a sleepless 
night. 


The next morning, the Brahman went to the 
forest and to his joy the same beggar appeared before 
him. 


“I know you have lost the pan. Don’t be foolish 
again. I now give you a box and whenever you ask 
for clothes you will find it stuffed with the richest 
and the costliest clothes. You may sell these and buy 
all that you need,” said the beggar. 

Again the foolish Brahman, who had not yet 
learnt Ms lesson, put the box near the tree, where 



SUDARSAN GAINS WISDOM AFTER MANY EXPERIENCES 35 


the same boys were playing. “I am coming in a 
moment. Keep an eye here,” he said, “but do not 
ask the box to give any clothes.” 

The boys who now knew more about the Brah- 
man, waited till he was out of sight. Then approaching 
the box, they said, “Oh box, give us clothes to wear.” 

Immediately they found the box full of rich and 
costly clothes. They put on these nice looking, rich 
clothes and looked like princes. The boys, of course, 
put another box there and carried this ficcious treasure 
home. 

The Brahman came back a little while la er, 
and took the box home to his wife. “Here you are,” 
he addressed her, “rich clothes and in plenty, only 
ask the box and it will give you. We need no longer 
remain poor. Whenever we need money we can 
sell the clothes.” 

His wife anxiously asked the box to give her 
silk saris. But, of course, the box did nothing. 

In disgust, the woman gave a kick to the box 
and calling her husband a. liar, she asked, “Is this the 
way you should deceive your wife? Yesterday you 
gave me the sweetmeats and today you are giving me 
silk saris ! You are a liar ! Mind, if you treat your 
wife in this way you need not expect her to stay here 
any longer. I must go back to my parents.” 

The next day, with a heavy heart, Sudarsan 
went to the forest. Who would look after him if his 
wife went away? An empty stomach and a lonely 
heart! Could he bear all this? With such sad 
thoughts he came to the jungle and on arrival there, 
again, he met his benefactor. 

“You fool,” he scolded, “I gave you food and 
clothes but*you v could retain neither. It is hard to 



36 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


pardon your folly. Yet, one more chance t give you. 
Take this club and deal with the wicked boys.” 

Soon, the Brahman went to the spot where he 
had met the boys before and putting the club down, 
warned the boys, “Beware, don’t ask anything 
of this club.” They inwardly smiled and assured the 
Brahman that they would have nothing to do with 
his club. 

Many good things had come out of the pan and 
the box. How could the boys forget such sweets and 
such clothes 1 ‘Surely something else will come from 
this club,’ they thought. 

The moment the Brahman was out of sight, the 
boys cried, “Oh club, give us something; oh, club, 
give us something.” To their horror the club rose 
up and fell on each one of them with heavy strokes 
on their heads. Crying in pain, the boys ran to their 
village, but the merciless club followed them hitting 
hard all the time. The screaming boys ran to their 
parents for help and protection but none could help 
them. The parents with tears in their eyes, fell at 
Sudarsan’s feet and begged him for help. “Do not 
let our boys be killed,” they cried. “Have mercy on 
them and save them.” 

“Not until my pan and box are returned will 
I help,” replied the angry Brahman. 

“Take your pan, take your box,” they said, 
producing those quickly. Sudarsan was satisfied and 
shouted at the club, “Stop.” The beating forth- 
with stopped and the Brahman happily returned home 
with his magic pan, box and club. 

Sudarsan and his wife, ever afterwards, had 
plenty of rich food and nice clothes. They lived in 
comfort and they were also safe because they 
had the magic club with them. 



4 

WHY A BRITISH CAPTAIN BOWED BEFORE 

A REBEL CHIEF 

O VER two hundred years ago the Marathas were rulers 
in Orissa. They appointed a local chief as Raja, 
but themselves lived far out in the west of the country. 
This Raja collected revenues on behalf of his masters, 
the Marathas. There were numerous Paikas 1 under 
the Raja who fought the Raja’s battle, and in return 
got gifts of land for which they had to t iay no revenue. 

But when the Britishers came and conque ed 
Orissa the Paikas lost their lands to the British. 
There was much discontent on this account. Soon 
this discontent spread like wild fire and the Paikas 
banded together to fight the British. 

At that time, there lived in the village of Narana- 
garh, one Dalabehera, whose name is cherished even 
today by many in Orissa. He was the headman of 
the village, and had the heart of a prince. People 
called him the friend of the poor, and no person in 
need ever returned from him empty-handed. Even 
men from distant parts adored him and said that he 
was more like a god than man. 

When the Paikas revolted, Dalabehera took 
the lead and fought against the British. In the beginn- 
ing victory was on the side of the Paikas. They 
captured a number of places from the British, but 
soon fresh armies were brought against them and the 
revolt was firmly put down. Brutal punishment of 
the Paikas followed their defeat. Many were caught 
and hanged and many imprisoned. A number of 


1. Soldiers of Orissa in olden times. 



38 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Paikas fled to the jungle for safety and refuge. Yet 
the anger of the British captain was not satisfied. 
He wanted the head of Dalabehera. But Dalabehera 
was hiding in the jungle and he could not be traced. 
So a reward of one thousand rupees was offered to 
anyone who would capture Dalabehera. In spite of 
keen searches all over, Dalabehera could not be cap- 
tured. He was living in a thick jungle and depended 
on wild fruits and roots and water from the forest 
brooks. His clothes were tattered and with over- 
growing hair and beard he looked utterly miserable. 

One day while roaming, Dalabehera met a man 
who looked deeply distressed. The man came up to 
Dalabehera and pitiously asked the way to 
Naranagarh. 

“What makes you go to Naranagarh?” asked 
Dalabehera in surprise. “Whom do you want there?” 

“I am going to Dalabehera of Naranagarh,” 
replied the man. 

“I know Dalabehera but tell me why do you 
want to meet him?” asked Dalabehera. 

“Sir, grave misfortune has fallen upon me. 
My home is in Ganjam. I was coming in a boat with 
all my merchandise but my boat sank in the Chilka 1 . 

I escaped only with the clothes I am wearing. I have 
a large family and I have lost everything. There is 
no one to help me. I have heard the name of Dala- 
behera. Men say that he is a friend of the helpless. 

I am sure if I meet him he will not refuse help,” said 
the man. 

Dalabehera was struck with the man’s story and 
for a while remained speechless. His noble heart 


1. A lake in Orissa. 



WHY A BRITISH CAPTAIN BOWED BEFORE A REBEL CHIEF 39 

melted. The picture of the man’s helplessness pained 
him and he made up his mind. 

“Come along with me, my friend. I know your 
Dalabeh era very well. He now lives in Khurda and I 
will take you to him. I also believe that he will help 
you,” said Dalabehera. 

But Dalabehera straightway took the man to 
Khurda to the British Captain who was hunting for his 
life. Unafraid he stood before the CapUin. The Captain 
however could not imagine that Dalabehera was 
standing before him. 

Curiously he asked, “Who are you and what has 
brought you here?” 

“Sir,” boldly asked Dalabehera, “Is it a 
fact that you have offered a reward of one thousand 
rupees for Dalabehera’s head?” 

“Yes, it is true. Do you know the where- 
abouts of this man ?” enquired the Captain. 

Dalabehera said, “Please listen, sir, I am Dala- 
behera, whom your men have not been able to track 
down. I myself have come to you. Arrest me, 
sir, and make good your promise. Please pay the 
reward of one thousand rupees to this most 
unfortunate man.” 

Then in moving words he narrated the pitiful 
story of the man. “He has nothing now with him 
except the clothes on his body. I cannot bear the 
thought of such great misery and therefore have come 
to you. Take me prisoner and pay this man the 
promised reward.” 



40 


FOLK TALFS OF ORISSA 


In silent astonishment, the British Captain listened 
to the story of the man’s great misfortune and Dala- 
behera’s still greater sacrifice. 

Uplifted in spirit the British Captain confessed, 
“Dalabehera, I have long been utterly mistaken. 1 
never knew you were so great in spirit! How could 
I be revengeful before such greatness? Take one 
thousand rupees for your friend and also your 
freedom with it.” 

The miserable man who was a witness to this 
amazing story fell at the feet of Dalabehera saying, 
“Sir, I had thought that you were only a rich man 
who helped the poor like many other rich men but 
now I see that you are more like a god than man.” 



5 


A RANI’S REVENGE 


I N oiden times, there were a number of inde- 
pendent states in Orissa. Banki and Khurda 
were two such States which had a common boundary. 
There were frequent border disputes between the two 
states. Sometimes, these disputes even led to war. 

Dhanurjaya, the Raja of Banki was a renowned 
warrior who had fought many hard battles. He was 
a skilful archer and swordsman. His Rani, Shuka 
Dei, was no less a warrior than her husband. Her 
skill in horse-riding was well known everywhere. 


Banki was a smaller State than Khurda. Her 
resources in men and materials were poor. But 
Dhanurjaya’s courage was such that he would yield 
to none and much less to the Raja of Khurda. Once 
the Raja of Khurda forcibly occupied some villages 
on the border. Bravely, Dhanurjaya marched for- 
ward with his army to light the invader. That day 
a severe battle was fought and many were killed. 
In the end, the small army of Banki could not resist 
the pressure of a heavy attack. Dhanurjaya fought 
bravely, but fell into the hands of the enemy and was 
killed. When they found their ruler slain, the sol- 
diers of Banki gave up the battle as lost and fled 
from the battle-field. 

Soon report of the death of her husband reached 
Rani Shuka Dei. Her grief knew no bounds, 
yet her eyes held no tears but flashed fire. Her 
counsellors came up to her and declared in one voice, 
“Our Raja is dead. Now there is no hope for us. 
Let us surrender to the enemy.” 



42 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


“Are we Kshatriyas 1 or cowards?” she cried 
out in anger. 

“No, Madam,” replied her minister, “we are 
not cowards. But our Stale is small and our army 
smaller. We can never expect to win against Khurda. 
Our Raja is no more and you, O Rani, are only a 
woman and Prince Dayanidhi ismerelyalad.lt is 
wise to give up now a bit of our territory rather than 
lose the entire State. This may satisfy the Raja of 
Khurda.” 

“What? Yield to the enemy! True, I am a 
woman but do not forget that 1 am a Kshatriya and 
Kshatriya blood runs in my veins,” cried the Rani 
in anger. 

Turning to her Senapati 2 she continued, “I 
will fight and fight, and if need be, die fighting like a 
Kshatriya, but never will I yield even a small strip 
of land to the enemy.” 

Feelingly she asked, “Did you not all run away 
from the battle-field? Tell me, did my husband 
run away ? Bravely, he fought and died in the battle- 
field. If you are afraid, you may go and hide yourself 
in your homes. I am going to the battle-field to fight 
again. If none of you comes with me, let it be known 
that I, a woman, will alone march forward and fight 
against Khurda.” 

Then she added, “Only such as are not afraid 
of death, need come with me. Make known this, 
my decision, to my people.” 

These brave words of a woman put courage in 
their hearts and they declared, “If you are going to 

1. Warrior class. 

2. General. 



rani’s revenge 


43 


the battle-field, can we stay behind? We can’t 
let you go alone.” They added, “We have asked the 
Raja of Badamba for help, and maybe, help from 
that quarter is coming.” 

The Rani’s undaunted courage touched every- 
body, and soon a great army, with the Rani at the 
head, marched forward against Khurda. 

In the meanwhile, the Raja of Khurda was 
celebrating his victory. When the news of this fresh 
attack reached his ears he could not believe it. 

“Impossible,” he said, “The Rani of Bank' to 
attack us? Dare she, a widow, take up such a fcjlish 
venture, and that too so soon after the death of her 
husband ? Impossible !” However, he instructed his 
Senapati to make preparations for war. 

Great was the surprise of the Raja to see Shuka 
Dei leading an army against him. Soon a fierce 
battle raged near the boundary. The Rani’s unusual 
courage gave spirit to her soldiers and they fought 
bravely. Many deeds of courage were seen on the 
battle-field and in the end the Senapati of Khurda 
was caught and killed by the Banki army. Thereafter, 
panic prevailed in the Khurda camp and soon the 
Raja of Khurda was captured by the Rani’s soldiers. 

Bound with chains and guarded by the soldiers 
of Banki, the Raja was brought before Rani Shuka 
Dei. He was greatly ashamed when he was brought 
as a prisoner before a woman, and that too a woman 
whose husband he had so lately killed. 

Was not death in the battle-field thousand times 
better than this disgrace? Surely, revenge is in the 
Rani’s heart and she will not spare my life,’ thought the 
Raja. 



44 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


The Rani looked at her soldiers and ordered, 
“Take off the chains and set free the Raja.” Then 
looking at the Raja, she gently said, “You may now 
return to your own State. No one here will do you 
any harm.” 

The Raja was astonished at this most unexpected 
turn of events. ‘What!’ he thought, ‘She, whom 1 
had taken to be my enemy seeking revenge, now orders 
my freedom!’ With his head bowed he humbly 
said, “I never imagined that you could show me such 
mercy.” 

The Rani rejoined, “Sir, you are my prisoner 
and if I like I can have your head cut off. But what 
good would such an act produce? I am a widow. 
I have a woman’s heart. My husband is dead and 
day and night I am mourning. My grief is too heavy 
to bear. How could I inflict such a sorrow and such 
suffering on another woman? No, no, I cannot do 
this to the Rani of Khurda ! I fought with you only 
to bring back the lost prestige of Banki and not 
for revenge.” 

Deeply moved the Raja stood stunned. After 
a while, he humbly said, “Madam, you got victory 
over me in the battle-field today, and now you have 
won a second victory over me by showing such magna- 
nimity. What could my grateful heart say or give to 
you? I remain for ever indebted to you and as a token 
of my gratitude, I surrender to you the entire Kusa- 
pala pargana 1 of Khurda. I vow, that never more 
shall the sword of Khurda be raised against Banki.” 

Later, a pillar was raised at Kusapala, to mark 
the heroism and magnanimity of Rani Shuka Dei. 
The pillar still exists. 


1. A group of villages. 



6 

THE COWHERD AND THE WITCH 

I N a certain village there lived a cowherd. He 
took out the cows of the villagers for grazing. They 
paid him money for looking after their cattle. On 
festival days, however, they also gave the boy sweets 
prepared at their homes. 

It was the day of Bakula Amavasya 1 , a day of 
festival and rejoicing for the village folk. At every 
home they had prepared pithas * ana other kinds of 
sweets. In the morning the boy went round the 
village collecting the cows. As it was a festival clay, 
he got rice-cakes from every home. That day he had 
plenty to eat. He gave some to his mother and took 
some with him to eat during the day. 

About noon when the cattle were resting, the 
boy sat down under a banyan tree and ate a few rice- 
cakes. But how much could he eat? He had al- 
ready eaten too much but there was still one left over. 
A funny idea came to his mind. A little away from 
the banyan tree, he dug the earth and planted the 
rice-cake as he would plant a seed. Jokingly, he said 
to the rice-cake, “If you do not sprout by tomorrow 
morning, I shall strike you with my axe." 

Next day he went to the same field with the cows. 
He had forgotten about the rice-cake. As he sat 
watching his cattle graze, suddenly he remembered 
the rice-cake he had planted. He went to the spot 
to look. To his surprise, the cake had sprouted! 


1. Anew moon day — a festival day in Orissa, on which mango blossoms arc 
put in different kinds of sweets and offered to the gods invoking their 
blessings for a good crop of mangoes. After they are offered to the gods, 
they are usually distributed to the children. 

2. Cakes made of rice. 



46 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


There was a green sprout sticking through the earth. 
The boy was greatly amused. He said to the sprout, 
“By tomorrow if I do not find leaves on you, I shall 
cut you down with my axe.” 

On the following day, he went straight to the 
place where he had planted the rice-cake. He was 
delighted to find the plant covered with leaves. He 
said, “Now, if there are no rice-cakes on your branches 
tomorrow, 1 shall cut you down with my axe.” 

He went early the next morning to see if his 
words had really come true. Yes, the tree had borne 
fruit. The branches were heavy with white rice-cakes. 
The boy shouted for joy as he climbed the tree. He 
had his fill of rice-cakes freshly plucked from the tree. 
He even took some home to his mother. 

Now, this he did every day and the tree continued 
to give him rice cakes. 




THE COWHERD AND THE WITCH 


47 


One day, the boy was up on the tree singing 
merrily and eating rice-cakes. A witch saw him. 
She approached him in the form of an old grey-haired 
woman and said, “Hello son, how can you eat all 
the rice-cakes by yourself? Won’t you give some to 
this old woman?” 

“Why, the branches arc heavy with cakes? 
You can help yourself.” 

“Can’t you see, son, I am old and weak? My 
eyes have gone dim. Please pluck some for me.” 

The boy jumped on the branches and some cakes 
fell on the ground. “Now pick for yourself as much 
as you wish.” 

“Oh, no, no, J won’t take these. They are 
fallen on the ground. They have become dirty. 
Unless you give with your own hand, I will not have 
any. Of course, if you don’t wish to give any, l will 
go away. I’ve had no food since yesterday.” 

So saying she turned her back and started to go. The 
boy called her back. From the branches he stooped 
a little to hand her a couple of cakes. All of a sudden, 
the witch pulled him down and ihe boy fell on the 
ground. Quickly she caught hold of him and put 
him in her bag. She tied the bag and placing it in 
her basket, carried him away. 

It was a hot sunny day. The basket was heavy 
and she was tired. She felt thirsty and stopped on 
the way to drink water. Some men were ploughing 
in a paddy field nearby. The old witch put down 
her load on the wayside. “Please keep an eye on this 
till I return from the brook,” she requested the men. 

When she was gone, the boy called out gently, 
“Have mercy on me and save me.” The ploughmen 



48 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


were surprised to hear a human voice coming out of 
the basket. They untied the bag and set 'the boy 
free. Quickly, the lad told them how he was being 
taken away by the wicked witch. “Now, hurry. 
Before the witch comes back, run and hide behind 
the bushes,” advised the men. Then they placed some 
stones in the bag, tied it again and placed it in the 
basket. When the witch returned, the men were 
ploughing the field as if nothing had happened. 

Without suspecting anything, the witch placed 
the basket on her head and carried it home. When 
she reached home her daughter came out to meet 
her. “Here, take this. There is meat in this basket. 
Prepare a good meat curry today. Have the food 
ready when I return from a bath in the river,” she 
said. 


When the girl opened the bag, she found only 
stones. “Do you want me to make curry out of 
these?” she asked, pointing at the stones, when her 
mother returned from her bath. The witch came over 
and looked in. “What! The rascal slipped out of 
the bag! He cheated me! I’ll see that he doesn’t 
escape next time,” swore the witch. 

After some days, the old witch again went to 
the rice-cake tree, this time in the form of a beggar 
woman. She found the boy up on the tree. “What 
lovely cakes! Won’t you give me some? I am so 
hungry,” she begged. 

“So you have come again! Do you think I 
have forgotten you?” the boy asked. “It was my 
good luck that saved me from your hands. No, 
you can’t deceive me this time.” 

The witch pretended to be surprised. “I don’t 
know what you are talking about. I never came here 



THE COWHERD AND THE WITCH 


49 


before. You are surely mistaking me for someone 
else!” 


The boy looked at her carefully. He thought, 
‘Probably, I am mistaken. Perhaps, this is another 
woman. But let me be careful still.’ He held the 
branch tightly with one hand, and with the other 
offered some cakes to the woman. “Take these and 
don’t bother me any more,” he said. 

The witch caught hold his hand quickly and pulled 
him down. She pulled so hard that tVe branch broke 
and the boy fell to the ground. At mce the woman 
tied him securely and carried him away in her bas- 
ket. 


This time the witch was careful not to stop on 
the way but went straight to her home. She said 
to her daughter, “Keep everything ready for the 
cooking while I go to collect some firewood.” 

When the witch left, the girl untied the bag. 
Out came a handsome lad. He had thick black hair 
on his head. Now the witch’s daughter was almost 
bald. Being a girl, she naturally coveted such lovely 
hair. So she asked the boy, “What do you do to 
get such nice hair?” At once the boy thought 
of a plan. “But that’s a secret. Why should I tell 
you when you are going to kill me?” bargained the 
boy. The girl thought for a moment. Her 
desire to have long black hair was so great that she 
promised to set him free if he gave out the secret. 
The boy said gravely, “Goat’s milk helps the hair 
to grow. Every night, before I go to bed my mother 
rubs this milk on my head. If you do the same, you 
will soon find lovely black hair on your head.” When 
the girl learned the secret, in gratitude, she set him 
free, 



50 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


She cooked up a story to tell her mother when 
she returned with the firewood. She said, “O’ Mother ! 
The boy has run away. I had shut him in the room. 
I was grinding the spices for the curry, and when I 
came back he was not there. Look, he has broken 
the window and has jumped through that.” The 
witch flew into a rage. She gave her daughter a 
severe beating for her carelessness. 

The old witch did not give up. She was now 
more determined than ever to capture the boy. The 
boy also knew that the witch would come again. But 
this time he was well prepared. He had a crow-bar 
well sharpened and kept ready and hidden on the 
rice-cake tree. 

Sure enough, the witch came again. She stood 
under the cake tree and begged for some rice-cakes. 
‘I know you too well by now, old witch,’ thought 
the cowherd. But he said aloud, “Open your mouth, 
I’ll drop some cakes from here.” Not knowing what 
was coming, the witch opened her mouth wide. In 
the flash of a moment, the cowherd with all his strength 
thrust the crow-bar into her mouth and killed her. 
Thus he freed himself from the hands of the witch. 


••• 



7 


TAPOYEE 


I N ancient times, there were a number of ports 
on the eastern coast of Orissa. Large rivers like the 
Mahanadi, the Subarnarekha, the Brahmini and the 
Baitarani were studded with ports. In those days, 
there lived a class of merchants who were called 
‘Sadhavas’. They owned large ships which sailed 
from these ports to distant islands like Ceylon, Java, 
Sumatra and Bali. 

Tanaybanta was one such Sadhava, who had 
seven ships sailing to and fro on the high seas. He 
had a large family. His seven sons lived happily 
with their wives. His only daughter, Tapoyee, was 
a lovely little girl. She was so gentle and good that 
all loved her. 

Tapoyee had many friends. Her days passed 
joyfully playing with them. They played many games 
together. Sometimes, they played the game of 
Cowrie \ at other times they went to the garden to 
swing. But the game Tapoyee loved best was digging 
in the sand by the riverside, making sand-houses 
and playing with sand. Tapoyee had a set of toy pots 
and pans with which she played the game of imagi- 
nary cooking. She would take a handful of sand, 
pebbles and a little water in the pots and imagine 
that she was cooking rice and curry. Some- 
times her playmates would join her. Then they would 
serve these on banana leaves spread on the ground 
and sit down to enjoy an imaginary feast. 

One day, while she was busy playing alone, 
an old woman approached her. She stood by her 


]. Small $ea-3liclls used in a game of dice. 




52 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


side and watched her for a while. Then she 'laughed 
at Tapoyee and said, “Well, well, you are a stupid 
girl, indeed! It’s a shame for a rich man’s daughter 
to play with earthen pots. Why? Can’t your father 
afford to give you golden pots and pans? He is so 
rich that he can make for you even a golden moon !” 

After the wicked woman left, Tapoyee pondered 
over her words. Her innocent mind was now upset. 
She became morose. She could not play any longer. 
She broke all her earthen pots and returned home 
sadly. 


At home, she refused food and would not talk 
to anyone. Her parents, brothers and their wives 
were much distressed. They tried in vain to find 
out from her the cause of her sorrow. At last Nilendi, 
her youngest brother’s wife, went up to her and said, 
“Tapoyee dear, won’t you listen to me? I’ll 
do anything for you, give anything you ask. Only 
tell me what is the matter with you. Why are you 
so sad?” Now, Tapoyee loved Nilendi more than 
any of her sisters-in-law. With tears in her eyes, 
Tapoyee said, “Father is so rich, yet he has never 
given me costly toys to play with! I play with only 
pots and pans made of clay. Others mock at me. 
Why should I not be sad?” Then she remembered 
the old woman’s words, and added, “I want a golden 
moon to play with!” 

Nilendi consoled her and said, “Is this all you 
want? Now get up and be a good girl. Come and 
eat. Your father will surely give you a moon made 
of gold.” 

Though it cost him a lot of money, Tanaybanta 
loved his daughter so much that he had a golden 
moon made for her. But, alas, Tapoyee’s request 
was ill-fated. When the golden moon was half 



TAPOYEE 


53 


done, her father died. When the moon was complet- 
ed, she lost her mother. Tapoyee had her wish, but 
she could not enjoy playing with the golden moon. 
She then realized that her request was not proper. 
She should not have listened to the words of the 
wicked woman. 

The funeral ceremonies of the parents were 
duly performed. After the mourning period was 
over, Tanaybanta’s sons took up the business of 
their father. The ships had been lying idle for some 
months. The brothers decided that they should go 
out on a long voyage to distant idands with their 
merchandise. With the advice of the Brahmans, 
an auspicious day for the voyage was fixed. The 
ships were fitted out and loaded with cargo. 

The merchants’ wives all wanted one thing or 
the other to be brought for them from the far off 
lands. One asked for a pearl necklace to be brought 
from Lanka 1 . Another wanted a pair of ear tops, 
with eight different gems on them, from Sumatra. 
Yet another requested for a silk sari from Bali. In 
this way all the seven wives made their requests. When 
it came to the turn of Tapoyee, she would not ask 
for anything. “I do not want anything. All that 
I want is that my brothers should return home safely,” 
she said. But when they insisted that she should 
name something to be brought for her, she replied, 
“You can bring anything that you like.” 

On the day fixed for the voyage, before leaving 
home, the Sadhavas called their wives together and 
told them, “Take good care of our sister. She has 
lost her parents and is sad. Attend to all her needs 
carefully. Keep her happy and see that no harm 
befalls her.” As was the custom, the merchants and 


1. Ceylon. 



54 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


all the womenfolk of the house went down, to the 
riverside where the boats were moored, to perform 
puja 1 in the ships to Goddess Mangala, the protecting 
deity of the Sadhavas. Rice grains, dub 2 grass, 
berry leaves, flowers and lamps were arranged on 
silver plates. The lamps were lit, and oblations were 
offered to the Goddess. The womenfolk sang songs 
in praise of Mother Mangala and prayed for the safety 
of the merchants. They applied sandalwood paste 
on the foreheads of their husbands and bade them 
farewell. 

There in the ships they parted with many words 
of tenderness. It was not customary to weep on such 
an auspicious occasion. Yet, Tapoyee and her 
sisters-in-law could not help shedding tears as they 
came out of the boats. They stood on the bank 
of the river and blew conch-shells until the ships 
were out of sight. 



1. Worship. 

2. A kind of grass. 


TAPOYEE 


55 


For a time all went well. Her sisters-in-law 
took great care of Tapoyee bestowing all their love 
and attention upon her. In this way many days 
passed. But Tapoyee’s happiness was shortlived. 

One day a beggar woman called at their house 
and asked for some rice to eat. She was there begging 
for a long time, but none paid attention to her. At 
last, the eldest brother’s wife came out. The woman 
said, “I have been begging for a little rice so long, 
but no one cared to listen to me!” She replied, “Why? 
We are all busy. There is such a tot of work to 
attend to in this house. Besides, my husband’s sister 
needs so much looking after that there is little time 
for anything else. We have to do every thin w to 
keep her happy.” 

This was the same old woman who had earlier 
talked to Tapoyee and had brought sorrow to the 
family. Now, she said mischievously, “Who is this 
fortunate girl to have seven sisters-in-law dancing 
attendance on her? Why should you do all that for 
her? After all, do you think she will speak a good 
word for you to her brothers when they return home? 
I tell you, she will, on the other hand, speak ill of 
you. The ungrateful girl will tell stories against you 
to her brothers. Take my word, your husbands 
will more readily believe her than believe you. Let 
me tell you how you can get rid of her. Now is the 
time to do something. Send her daily to the jungle 
with the goats. I am sure, there she will be eaten up 
by a wolf or be bitten by a snake. You can then tell 
her brothers that she died of pox.” 

Her words pleased the eldest sister-in-law. 
Gradually, she was able to poison the minds of the 
others against Tapoyee. Soon the poor girl was 
given all kinds of domestic chores. Nilendi, however, 
did not like this, but she was powerless. Tapoyee 



56 


POLK TALES OF ORISSA 


was given coarse clothes to wear and was treated like 
a servant in her own home. She swept the floor, 
washed clothes, pounded rice and did all the hard 
manual work. For all she did, she did not have a kind 
word from her sisters-in-law. However well she worked 
she was found fault with and was often scolded. In 
her misery, she cried many a time. She longed for 
the old days and prayed for her brother’s quick 
return. But the worst was yet to come. 

One morning, Tapoyee’s eldest brother’s wife 
called her and said, “You are a lazy girl. You are 
idling yourself at home. Hereafter, you should take 
out the goats daily to the jungle for grazing. Be 
careful! See that the goats are not lost. If I find 
any goat missing. I’ll punish you severely.” Then 
she threw a basket at her saying, “Take this, here is 
some food for you for the mid-day meal.” 

With tears rolling down her cheeks, Tapoyee 
went out driving the goats. She had never before 
known the heat of the sun. She found it 
unbearable. Her tender feet bled as she walked 
bare-footed in the jungle. At noon she opened 
the basket. When she saw what was inside, she 
cried bitterly. The basket was full of ashes and dirt 
with a handful of parched rice thrown on top. She 
was very hungry. Tapoyee, who at one time did 
not know what hunger was and always ate the best 
food, now had to satisfy her hunger with the little 
parched rice in the basket. In her distress, she wept. 
But who would save her? Her parents were dead, 
her brothers were far away. 

The next day the same thing was repeated. The 
second sister-in-law gave her very little food for 
the mid-day. In this way six days passed until there 
came the seventh day, when it was Nilendi’s turn to 
give her food. Secretly, Nilendi packed a good meal 



TAPOYEE 


57 


of fine rice and tasty curries for Tapoyee. That day 
Tapoyee had a good meal. 

In this way dragged on days and months. One 
day, as Tapoyee was herding the goats back home, 
she found one of the best goats missing. It was 
getting dark. The sky was overcast with clouds. 
Already it had started to rain. Tapoyee called out 
for the goat and searched high and low, but nowhere 
was the goat to be seen. She returned home with 
a heavy heart. She feared that she would be badly 
punished. 

As soon as the eldest sister-in-law learnt of the 
missing goat, she brought out a stick to beat Tap >yee. 
The poor girl ran away into the jungle to save herself. 
In the dark and alone in the forest, she was seized 
with fear. Her grief knew no bounds. In her despera- 
tion she cried aloud, “Oh! Mother Mangala! Have 
mercy on me. Bring back my brothers and put an 
end to my suffering.” 

Little did she know that at that time the ship 
had arrived at the riverside and her brothers had 
returned. Her sorrowful wailing filled the forest 
air. Her brothers were astonished to hear someone 
weeping in the jungle nearby. Some of them left 
the ships and went to offer help. They saw a girl 
sitting under a tree and weeping, the picture of 
sorrow, “Who are you? Why are you crying here 
at such an hour?” asked the Sadhavas. 

“I have none in this world to care for me. My 
parents are dead. My brothers are far away and their 
wives treat me cruelly,” she replied sobbing. 

Then the brothers knew who she was. “Why, 
you are Tapoyee! Our beloved sister!” they ex- 
claimed. 



58 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


She lifted up her tearful face and said, “Ah, 
my brothers! Yes, I am Tapoyee, your unfortunate 
sister.” Then she told them all that had happened 
in their absence. 

They took her to the ship. There they all heard 
how cruelly their wives had treated Tapoyee while 
they were away. Tapoyee was happy beyond measure. 
Her days of misery seemed to end. 

Early in the morning, they sent a servant to 
their wives with a message. They said, “Go home and 
tell the ladies that we have arrived safely. Ask them 
to come here with Tapoyee to peform puja in 
the ships and welcome us back home, as is our 
custom.” 

As soon as they heard the news, the merchants’ wives 
became busy arranging the offerings on silver plates. 
With these they hurried to the riverside to welcome 
their husbands. As for Tapoyee, they were sure that 
she was killed by some wild animal in the forest and to 
deceive their husbands, they had cooked up a story 
about Tapoyee’s death through illness. 

But when they reached the ship, to their dismay, 
they found Tapoyee on the deck of the ship, decked 
beautifully in nice clothes and jewellery. The Sadhavas 
were angry with their wives and punished them for 
ill-treating Tapoyee, but Nilendi, who had shown 
kindness to the girl, was rewarded by them. 

This story relates to hundreds of years ago. 
It is remembered and recited by girls in Orissa during 
the festival of Tapoyee Ossa. This festival is observed 
in worship of Goddess Mangala, on every Sunday 
during the month of Bhadra. On each of these 
Sundays, the girls in Orissa undertake a fast, perform 
puja and pray to Goddess Mangala to grant them 
their wishes as she had once granted Tapoyee’s wish. 



8 


THE CONCH-SHELL 


I N a certain village, on the coast of Orissa, 
there once dwelt a simpleton. His name was 
Madhua. He was so stupid that he was not able to 
do even a simple job. Luckily for him he had a good 
wife. She did odd jobs here and there and supported 
him. 


Once she fell seriously ill. Madhua then realized 
that it was his duty to look after h^r and nurse her 
back to health. He needed money to buy food and 
medicines. So he went out in search of a job. siut 
who would employ him ? Everyone knew that he 
was good-for-nothing. He tried hard but did not 
get a job. Poor Madhua was so dejected that he 
did not wish to return home and see his sick wife 
dying before his very eyes. He did not wish to live 
any longer. He went to drown himself in the sea. 
Sitting on the seashore, he cried bitterly, “Oh god. 
how can I live? What good is life without brain, with- 
out money ? Now, 1 am about to lose my wife also. 
Let me end this miserable life.” So saying he threw 
himself into the sea. 

The sea god heard his cry and took pity on him. 
He did not allow Madhua to die. He sent a big 
wave which lifted him up and cast him on the sandy 
beach. Madhua was senseless. The sea god caused 
a cool breeze to blow and fan him back to life. Slowly 
Madhua opened his eyes. He saw a tall, hand- 
some, blue figure standing before him. The figure 
was wearing a necklace of such lovely pearls and pre- 
cious stones that they shone like stars on his blue 
body. He was Varuna, the sea god. Varuna said, 
“O Madhua, be brave, do not despair. In the deep 
oceans, I have untold wealth. I will help you. A 



60 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


small gift from me can change your life. Here, take 
this conch-shell. Ask it what you want. It will give 
you whatever you desire.” 

It was a beautiful conch -shell. Madhua’s heart 
was filled with thankfulness and he humbly bowed 
before the god. When he looked up the blue figure 
had vanished. Madhua was alone on the seashore 
with the conch-shell in his hands. He hastened home 
joyfully. As soon as he reached home, he wanted 
to try the magic powers of the conch-shell. “Oh 
conch-shell, give me now a hundred gold pieces,” 
he asked. To his surprise, he found a hundred gold 
pieces lying on the floor! With the gold, Madhua 
got the best physician of the land and the best 
medicines for his wife. His wife soon recovered from 
her illness. 

They had now plenty of money. With the help 
of the conch-shell they got a beautiful house in place 
of their hut. They no longer wore rags. They dressed 
themselves in fine clothes, ate good food and were 
attended upon by many servants. 

Though Madhua was a simpleton, he was a 
kind-hearted man. Now that he was rich, he was 
able to give alms to the poor. No beggar ever returned 
empty-handed from his door. 

The King of the land came to know of Madhua’s 
sudden good fortune. He became jealous and sent 
spies to find out how Madhua had become rich over- 
night. The spies became friendly with Madhua, 
and soon found out from the simple man how he 
had become rich so suddenly. At the end, they stole 
the conch-shell from him and gave it to the King. 

Once more Madhua was in distress. His conch- 
shell was gone. His wealth also slowly dwindled. He 



THE CONCH-SHELL 


61 


could not give alms to the poor any more. He was 
sad and wished to end his life. 

Madhua went to the seashore again to drown 
himself in the sea. The sea god once again appeared 
before him and said, “Do not lose heart. I shall 
give you a bigger conch-shell this lime. It will give 
ten times more of everything that you ask. But 
do not keep it for yourself. Make a gift of it to the 
King and ask him to return your conch-shell. 
When you get back your conch-shell you should leave 
the country at once.” 

Madhua did as he was told. He was not tempted 
to keep the big conch-shell for himself. Faith r ully, 
he presented it to the King and explained to him its 
magical powers. The King was happy to get a conch- 
shell which could give him ten times more of what he 
asked for. He gladly parted with the small conch- 
shell. 


As soon as he was alone, the King took the big 
conch-shell and asked him to give him gold, silver 
and precious stones. But to his horror, out came two 
blue hands from the conch-shell and slapped him 
right and left. A voice from within said, “O greedy 
King, you have so much wealth, yet you robbed poor 
Madhua. Be content with what you have. If you 
ask for more, you will only get more blows.” 

The King was angry with M adhua for deceiving 
him. He sent his soldiers to get hold of Madhua and 
bring him. But Madhua had already left for a far 
country and was out of reach of the King’s hands. 

Madhua and his wife lived happily the rest of 
their lives. The conch-shell gift of God was their 
support. 



9 


THE MAHAJAN’S SONS 


O NCE there was a Mahajan 1 who had four sons. 

In his lifetime he had amassed a good deal 
of wealth. His sons and their wives lived with him 
under the same roof. The old Mahajan feared that 
after his death his sons might quarrel and divide the 
property among themselves. If they could live to- 
gether, he was sure, they would prosper. 

The Mahajan was old and weak and he did not 
think that he was going to live much longer. So one 
day he called his sons together and said, “Dear sons, 
my death is not far off. After I leave this world do 
not quarrel, do not divide the property but live together 
and you will prosper. If, however, a’ division becomes 
necessary at any time, go to your uncle. He is wise 
and just and a good friend of the family. He will 
make a fair and just division of the property.” 

Not long after, the old man breathed his last. 
For some time all went well with the brothers. They 
remembered their father’s last words and lived to- 
gether, each attending to his work diligently. Sadhu, 
the eldest brother, was a learned man who earned a 
good income. The second brother, Radhu, was well- 
versed in legal matters and many sought his advice. 
He too had a good earning. The other two brothers, 
Madhu and Bidhu, were farmers who cultivated the 
land belonging to the family. They worked in the 
fields from morning till evening, whereas the elder 
brothers led an easy life. 

The wives of Madhu and Bidhu sometimes 
complained about their hard lot. “Why should you 


1. Businessman. 



THE MAHAJAN’S SONS 


63 


do all the hard work and return home late every day 
from the fields? Your brothers also have a share 
in the land but they do not help you in the cultivation. 
They lead a comfortable life. Why not we divide 
the property and live separately?” they said to their 
husbands. 

At first their husbands took no notice of their 
complaint. But in course of time, they too felt that 
what their wives said was not untrue. One day they 
told the two elder brothers, “We have been toiling 
hard cultivating all the land. This is unfair. We 
no longer wish to till your share of ti e land,” and they 
declared, “let us make a division of the property.” 
Sadhu and Radhu were grieved to hear this. “All 
right,” they replied, “if we must separate, then 1 -t us 
not forget father’s last wish. Let us go to uncle and 
ask him to make the division for us.” 

The four brothers went to see their uncle about 
this. Seeing them from a distance, he understood 
their pu rpose. When they reached his home and bowed 
to him, he said, “Welcome my nephews. I know why 
you have come. In a dream last night I was informed 
of your visit and its reason. But ] do not wish to 
go into the matter just now. First refresh yourselves 
after the long journey.” So saying, he brought water 
for them to wash their dusty feet and spread a mat 
on his verandah for them to sit. Then he set food 
and water before them. When they were refreshed, 
he said, “i know you have come to ask me to divide 
your property. Is it not so? I am willing to do it 
for you, but before I do it, I have been commanded 
in the dream to take you and your wives to Purusliot- 
tam 1 for a darshan 2 of Lord Jagannath 3 . Before 


1. Another name for Puri, a holy city in Orissa. 

2. To see and worship the god. 

3. The name means ‘lord of the world*. The image of Jagannath is enshrined 
in the famous temple of Puri. 



64 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


we undertake this important work, we should have 
the God’s blessings, as is our custom.” 

To this, they all agreed and set out on a pilgri- 
mage to Purushottam. Having had darshan and 
worship, they started off on their way back home. 
They had been walking since morning. The day 
grew warm and they were tired and hungry. Their 
uncle said, “Let us halt here and take some food be- 
fore we go further. Let some of you go to the village 
nearby and buy some food.” But when they looked 
for the money bag, it was not to be found. They 
searched and searched but the money bag was no- 
where to be seen and they were in great distress. They 
wondered how they could get back home without 
money to buy food. 

At last the uncle spoke, “My nephews, there is 
no way out but to earn money to buy food. Now, 
each of you go and find work to earn money. Bring 
your wages, either in kind or in cash.” 

Accordingly, they set out in search of work, 
each taking a different road. As Bidhu, the youngest 
brother, was going along, he saw a man ploughing a 
field. He noticed that the man was having difficulty 
with the bullocks. The animals were untrained and 
the poor farmer had ploughed little although the 
day was far spent. He was at his wit’s end. Bidhu 
asked, “Can I help you? I can plough the entire 
field in a couple of hours! If I do, what will you 
pay me?” The farmer’s face brightened up. He 
said, “I shall give you five seers of rice grains and some 
vegetables.” ‘This’, thought Bidhu, ‘would be 
ample for their mid-day meal’, and he readily agreed. 
“That will do. Now, you hurry up and fetch the 
rice and the vegetables, while I plough your field,” 
he said. After a while when the farmer returned, 
the Mahajan’s son had finished ploughing and was 



THE MAHAJAN’S SONS 


65 


resting under a tree, wiping the sweat off his face. 
He received the provisions as his wage and hurried 
back to the camp. 

On his way, Madhu, the third brother, met a 
group of people discussing something near a paddy 
field. On enquiry, they told him that they had a 
plot of land which always remained water-logged. 
Paddy would not grow on it. All their attempts 
to drain off water had failed and the land remained 
idle. Yet they had to pay taxes to the King. Madhu 
offered, “If I tell you how paddy could be grown in 
that field, what reward will you give me?” They said, 
“We shall give you ten pieces of ulver.” Then he 
told them the secret of growing paddy in a water- 
logged field. “Make balls of cow-dung and r.irth 
mixed together. When they are still wet and t>oft, 
put in a few seeds in each of them. After they are 
dry, cast them into the field. The balls with seeds 
inside will sink into the water, and the seeds will 
sprout,” he advised. The men were thankful to 
him for his advice and they gladly paid him the money. 
With his earning, Madhu hastened back to the camp. 

Now, Radhu, the second brother, in his search 
for work came across a man sitting under a tree, 
looking very sad and dejected. From his clothes, 
Radhu judged that he must be a respectable man. He 
asked him the cause of his sorrow. The man told 
him his sad story, “We are four brothers. When our 
father died, we divided the property. Each of us got 
equal share. However, there was one black cat 
which could not be divided. At last it was decided 
that the cat would belong to all, but each brother 
would be owner of only one of its legs. To my bad 
luck, one day the cat fell from the roof and broke 
the leg which had fallen to my share. So it was 
my duty to tend the wounded leg. I dipped a piece 
of cloth in oil and bandaged the wound. You know 
how cats are fond of warmth. While it was sleeping 



66 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


near the hearth, the oily cloth caught fire. The cat 
got scared and ran to the hay stack. The hay caught 
fire and from there the fire quickly spread and 
burnt down many houses nearby.” The man conti- 
nued, “The neighbours put the whole blame on me. 
They took up the matter to the village Panchayat 1 
and it was decided by the Panchayat that because 
the cat’s wounded leg, which belonged to me, did 
all the havoc, 1 should pay damages. From where 
am I to get all the money needed to rebuild their 
houses? How can I escape from this?” he sighed. 

This was too simple a matter for Radhu, the 
lawyer. He asked, “If I get you out of this scrape, 
what reward will you give me?” “Oh, if you can really 
do that for me, I shall give you five hundred pieces of 
silver,” said the man with great relief. Radhu agreed 
and said, “Go and call your neighbours and the elders 
of the village. I am coming after you.” 

When Radhu reached the village, they were all 
waiting for him. On the stone platform, under the 
spreading banyan tree, the village elders had gathered. 
This was the place where the village Panchayat 
usually met to settle disputes among the villagers. 
Radhu sat beside them. The villagers told him their 
complaint. Radhu listened patiently and when they 
had finished, he said, “As you all say, it is true 
that the cat caused all the damage. It is also true 
that the bandage on its wounded leg first caught 
fire. Because the cat ran, the fire spread and your 
houses were burnt down. But don’t you see that the 
cat could not run on its wounded leg? It is the other 
three good legs which enabled it to run. So, now 
let the Panchayat judge which of the legs caused 
the fire to spread. Certainly not the wounded leg!” 
Everyone present nodded his head in assent and wonder- 
ed at his wisdom. Madhu continued, “It is now quite 


1. Village council of elders usually five in number. 



THE MAHAJAN’S SONS 


67 


clear that the cat’s three good legs spread the lire. 
Therefore, the owners of the three good legs are guilty. 
It is they who should pay the damages.” The 
Panchayat was fully convinced by Radhu’s argument 
and decided that the owners of the three good legs 
should pay the damages. The owner of the wounded 
leg was greatly relieved and his joy knew no bounds. 
He gladly paid Radhu the promised five hundred 
pieces of silver. Radhu returned to the camp with 
the money. 

In his search for work, Sadhu, J ne eldest brother, 
came across a house from where came the sound 
of w'eeping. On enquiry, he found that the king’s 
minister lived in that house. The minister was in 
great distress as he was in danger of losing his life. 
The king had asked him to find out the weight of his 
elephant. The minister was told that if he could not 
give the answer by the following morning, he would 
lose his head. He was at a loss and did not know how 
to weigh the elephant. He was sure that he would be 
put to death the next day. Hence the minister and his 
relatives were sorrowful and were weeping. Sadhu 



68 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


went to the minister and asked him, “If I -find out 
for you the weight of the elephant, what reward will 
you give me?” The minister cheered up and replied, 
“I shall give you a thousand pieces of gold.” 

Sadhu took the elephant to the riverside. He 
then got the elephant to a boat, which sank deep due 
to the weight of the elephant. Thereupon, Sadhu 
marked the boat up to which it had sunk in the water. 
Then he had the elephant taken out of the boat and 
asked the men to fill the boat this time with sand until 
the boat sank into the water upto the mark he had 
made. After this it was quite simple to find out the 
weight of the animal. He got the sand weighed on 
scales and found that the weight was one hundred 
maunds. “That,” he said, “is also the weight of the 
elephant.” Everyone marvelled at his wisdom. The 
minister was grateful to Sadhu for saving his life. 
He not only gave him the thousand pieces of gold but 
also showered on him valuable gifts. 

After all the brothers returned to the camp with 
their day’s earnings, the uncle called them and their 
wives together. He spread out the earnings of each 
brother and told the two younger brothers and their 
wives, “Now, you see for yourselves the difference in 
the work and the earnings of the brothers. Do you still 
want me to divide the property?” he asked. The 
younger brothers and their wives realized their mistake. 
They were ashamed and they said, “We do not any 
more want the division of the property. We shall be 
content to live together.” 

The uncle then took out the missing money bag. 
He told them, “I purposely hid it and said it was lost 
because I wanted you to see for yourselves how much 
more your elder brothers could earn with their 
wisdom ” 





10 

NOTHING IS LOST IF GOD SAVES 

E VERY year in the month of Kartik, on the day 
of the full moon, a fair is held on the bank of the 
Mahanadi at Cuttack. The fair is known as the 
Balijatra. This fair is very popular and it attracts 
large crowds of people to the river-bank. The most 
beautiful part of the festival is the floating of colourful 
toy boats in the river. On that d'.y, early in the 
morning, when it is still dark, both young and old go 
to the riverside for bath. After the bath, they light lamps 
in the little boats and float them down the r'ver. 
Hundreds of these little lighted boats floating on the 
river make a great show. It is believed that this 
festival of Balijatra is held in remembrance of the 
ancient days when, in the month of Kartik , merchants 
of Orissa used to set sail to distant islands for trade 
and commerce. It brings to mind the prosperous days 
when the sea-faring people brought much wealth to the 
land . 1 


In those far off days, there once lived a Sadhava 2 
who carried on a flourishing trade with distant coun- 
tries. He was a good man and was noted for his piety. 
At that time, Orissa was famous for her fine linen and 
brasswares which were popular and much in demand in 
distant lands. Expert weavers wove a kind of linen 
which was of such fineness that the whole length of a 
sari could be made to pass through a bamboo pipe. 

This enterprising Sadhava had collected and 
loaded his ship with fine linen, brass and silver wares, 
ivory and oiher costly articles and he was looking 
forward to a successful voyage. In the month of 

1. It is a historic fact that merchandise boats from Orissa used to visit Bali, 
Sumatra, Java etc. Balijatra means the journey to Bali. 

2. Merchant engaged in overseas trade. 



70 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Kartik, one fine day, he set sail with his merchandise. 
The wind was favourable and carried his ship far 
into the ocean. But the ship had not gone far on 
her course, when suddenly a violent storm swept 
down upon them. The wind blew fiercely. The 
angry waves rose high and tossed the ship about help- 
lessly on the wild sea. Her planks were strained and 
soon she began to leak. The sailors did their best to 
lighten her by throwing off some of the cargo, but 
soon it became evident that the ship was sinking. 

To escape death, the Sadhava and his men leaped 
from the deck before the ship sank into the sea. 
Soon they were separated and were floating on the high 
sea. What became of his men, the Sadhava never 
knew. With the help of a plank, he swam towards 
the far off sandy shore. Sometime later, he was 
happy to find his servant, Bajia, swimming towards 
him. When they came close together, Bajia cried out, 
“Alas, my master, all is lost, all is lost.” 

But the Sadhava, who always hoped for the best, 
replied, “Do not say so. Do you not see that we are 
still alive ? Nothing is lost if God saves our lives.” 

They floated the whole night in the water. In the 
dark, a fish attacked the Sadhava and destroyed his 
eyes. When morning came, the servant looked up 
and was struck with horror to see his master’s eyes 
gone and blood streaming from the wounds. Bajia 
cried out again, “Alas, my master, all is lost, all is lost.” 

Though the Sadhava was blind and in great pain, 
he said to his servant, “Do not say so. I am still 
alive though blind. Remember, if God saves your life, 
nothing is lost.” 

At long last, both master and servant landed on 
the sandy shore. The Sadhava took out a diamond 
ring from his finger and handing it to his servant said. 



NOTHING IS LOST IF GOD SAVES 


71 


“Take this. Go and sell it in the town. It is worth 
a thousand gold pieces. Buy some food for us. 
Later we can buy a small craft and return home.” 

Bajia went with the ring but did not come back. 
The diamond was of such value that he was tempted 
to run away with it, leaving his blind master to his 
fate. 


Blind and penniless, the Sadhava waited for Bajia 
in vain. Some people passing by took pity on the 
blind man and took him to the King’s palace. When 
the king heard all that had happened to him, he felt 
sorry for the poor man and asked him to stay in the 
palace. The Sadhava thought for a while and Lien 
said, “1 will gladly stay in the palace, Oh King, but on 
one condition that you will take my advice before you 
do anything important.” 

The King was amused at his reply. He wondered, 
‘There must be some worth in his words or else he 
dare not make such a request,’ and he readily agreed. 
He instructed his servants to make arrangements for 
the Sadhava to stay comfortably. 

One day, a diamond merchant came to the palace. 
The King bought from the merchant a beautiful ring 
with two glittering diamonds set on it. He some- 
how forgot to consult the Sadhava before buying the 
ring. The Sadhava felt hurt when he came to know 
of this. He told the King, “I should have been con- 
sulted before the ring was bought. You did not keep 
your promise. I, therefore, do not wish to stay here 
any longer.” 

The king smiled and ordered one of his attend- 
ants to fetch the ring. “Well, well, I am sorry, I for- 
got to ask your advice. Here is the ring. Test the 
diamonds and tell me if they are good.” 



72 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


The blind Sadhava felt the diamonds ‘with his 
fingers. He looked agitated. “The diamonds are 
unlucky. They will bring evil. Have them cut in two, 
at once, Oh King,” he urged. 

When the diamonds were pierced, two evil 
looking insects came out of them. “Quickly take 
away the insects from here. Throw them in the forest 
and see what happens,” the Sadhava advised. No 
sooner were the insects thrown in the forest than the 
whole forest caught fire. 

The Sadhava said, “If the king had kept the 
diamonds intact, the whole palace would have been 
destroyed by fire tonight.” It was then that the king 
realised the worth of the Sadhava. 

The king was thankful to the Sadhava for saving 
his life and property. In gratitude, he bestowed much 
wealth upon him and built for him a beautiful house 
to live in. Thereafter, the king never forgot to take 
his advice in all matters. The Sadhava settled in the 
king’s land and lived happily. 

Many days later, there came a beggar to the 
house of the Sadhava asking for alms. Recognising 
the beggar’s voice, the Sadhava asked, “Surely, you 
are Bajia, my servant. Are you not ? How is it 
that you are now a beggar ?” 

Bajia was taken by surprise. He never thought 
that his master would be still alive. He was now 
frightened because he was recognised and was sure 
that he would be punished. He fell at his master’s 
feet and begged forgiveness for his past misdeed. 
But the kind-hearted Sadhava said to him, “Have no 
fear. I have forgiven you. Look how God has 
blessed me. Remember, ‘Nothing is lost when God 
saves’.” 



A NOBLE SACRIFICE 


11 


I T is hard to realize what a real famine is. 

There are many tales describing the horrors of 
the great famine which raged in Orissa a hundred 
years ago. 

For three years together there was no rain. The 
wells, the brooks and even the rivers dried up. The 
ground was barren and dry and even-where the crops 
failed. There was no sowing, n<> reaping. Rice 
became a luxury and men began to forget what it 
tasted like. Plants, too, were nowhere to be s^en. 
Men started eating grass and the leaves of the n’ees 
and soon even they became scarce. 

As the days and the months passed, the stocks of 
rice and grains, which the rich people had carefully 
hidden, were also used up. After a while they could 
only have a little gruel, hardly enough for them and 
their children. Even this could not be had daily. 
Men died of hunger. The cry of pain and suffering 
was heard everywhere. Many took to begging and 
beggars were seen in every village and town. 

Hunger and want drove men to behave like 
animals. Husbands left their wives, parents forgot 
natural affection, and greedily ate away the little food 
they could get, without giving any to their children. 
Men did not hesitate to kill one another for a morsel 
of rice. Houses of rich people were attacked and their 
stocks of rice plundered. Whenever it was known 
that food was being cooked at any place, bands of 
young men armed with sticks would go and snatch 
away the food. 

Villages were deserted, as the villagers left their 
homes to go to the towns in the hope of getting food. 



74 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


But the towns were no better. Even there men were 
dying of hunger. 

Yet, even in the midst of this grim picture, noble 
acts of sacrifice and heroism were seen. 

There was a village near Kendrapara, in 
the district of Cuttack. There lived an old man 
with his wife, his son and daughter. The old man 
worked as a daily labourer and, even in the good old 
days, was hardly able to make both ends meet. When 
famine came, nobody engaged him, and he too, like 
many others, became a beggar. His wife and children 
also went out begging. Though they begged all day 
long, they could get only a morsel of rice sometimes. 
Some days, they could get nothing and the family 
lived on leaves of trees or grass boiled for their meal. 
Often they had to remain for days together without 
any food. The old man became weaker and weaker, till 
he fell ill and died of starvation. His wife and 
daughter became too weak to go out for alms. His son, 
Sanatan, who still had a little strength left in him, 
now felt that it was his duty to provide food to his 
mother and sister. Every day he went round the 
village to beg. What little he brought home, he shared 
with his mother and sister. Often he would return 
home empty-handed. The village folk who had no 
food for themselves could offer none to Sanatan. 
He then went to far-off villages to beg for food. 

One day, he went about begging from village to 
village, but got nothing. Yet he walked on and on. 
He was too weak to move his limbs but the thought 
of his starving mother and sister gave him strength 
and he kept on. After two days of wandering in 
search of food, he came to the house of a well-to-do 
woman. The kindly woman, seeing his shrunken 
body, took pity on him. “Son,” she said, “I can’t 
give you enough rice to fill your stomach, but take 



A NOBLE SACRIFICE 


75 


and eat just this much.” Sanatan carefully spread his 
cloth on the ground and the kind-hearted woman put 
some cooked rice on it. “Eat my son,” she said. 
But Sanatan tying it up in a bundle replied, “How 
can I eat this ? My mother and sister have had no 
food for two days. I will take this home.” 

He had a long way to go. He felt tired, weak 
and hungry. He walked some distance and rested a 
little, then walked again until he could walk no further, 
and he rested in the shade of a banyan tree with the 
precious rice near his head. 

‘Let me sleep a little,’ he said to himself, ‘then 
T may be able to walk home to my mother and si: -or. 
Oh, how hungry they must be!’ 

He laid himself down. His weary eyes closed. 
Soon he fell fast asleep but that was his last sleep. 
Hunger had done its cruel work. 

Some time later, people who passed that way 
were surprised to see the boy dead even though he had 
food with him. 

“How could it be,” they asked, “that the boy 
died when he had rice to eat? People arc dying of 
hunger but tiiis boy is dead with food by his side !” 

This was a great surprise to them. But how 
could they look into the heart of the dead child which 
held more love for his mother and sister than for 
himself? 



12 


HOW KASIA MET KAPILA 


K APILA was a Kshatriya. He was quite a 
child when his parents died. When he grew up, 
he went to work in a rich man’s house. The rich man 
had a large herd of cattle and Kapil a was engaged to 
look after them. The man had a son named Kasia. 
Naturally, the two boys being of the same age, were 
drawn towards each other. They spent much time 
together, played together and, indeed, a deep friendship 
grew up between them. Kasia often went along with 
Kapila to look after the cattle. 

One morning, the two friends went to the field 
with the cattle. It was hot and a wild wind was 
blowing. When mid-day approached, Kapila could stand 
the heat no longer. Calling his friend, he said, “Kasia, 
I feel drowsy. I will lie down under this tree and 
have a nap. Don’t go away, but keep an eye on the 
cattle until I wake up and in the evening, we will to- 
gether go back home.” 

Kapila was soon fast asleep and the hot sun was 
upon his face. But he was too tired and remained 
asleep. While he slept, a cobra came from the jungle 
nearby and spreading its hood over Kapila’s head, 
sheltered him from the sun’s rays. 

When Kasia came to wake up his friend, to his 
horror, he saw the dreadful sight. He could do 
nothing but stand and tremble. The snake getting 
the scent of Kasia’s presence quietly went away. 

Now Kasia got courage and running up to his 
friend, woke him up. Even before Kapila was fully 
awake, Kasia excitedly said, “Oh my friend, what a 
danger you escaped from! Do you know, a cobra 



HOW KASIA MET KAPILA 


77 


was here and had spread its hood over your head while 
you were asleep? How lucky you are! The snake 
did not do any harm.” 

The news of this strange incident spread like wild 
fire in their village. Many people said many things. 
Some old men gravely shook their heads, and said, 
“This is most auspicious for Kapila. It just means 
royalty. One day Kapila will be a king. Whoever 
heard a snake protecting a sleeper from the heat of 
the sun? This is not something which commonly 
happens.” Everybody believed tha* Kapila would 
one day be a king. 

Once Kasia asked Kapila, “Will you forget me 
when you become a king? Don’t laugh, everybody 
says you will be a king one day.” 

Kapila affectionately replied, “How can I forget 
you, my friend? When T become king, I will make 
you a minister.” 

Kapila often wondered whether he would really 
become a king. By and by he lost interest in his 
work as a cowherd. Not long after this he left Kasia’s 
house and secretly went to Puri. At Puri, he wandered 
near the temple and lived on the charity of the pilgrims. 

At that time Bhanudcva was the King of Orissa. 
One day, as he was going round the temple, his eyes 
fell upon Kapila. Kapila was good-looking, well- 
built and the King took a fancy to the boy. 

“Who are you and what are you doing here, 
young man?” he asked. 

“I am a poor Kshatriya boy,” Kapila replied, 
“and looking for work somewhere.” 



78 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


The King was pleased with this answer. “Do 
you like to work in the palace?” he asked. 

Soon Kapila became the King’s personal servant. 
His gentle manners, keen intelligence and hard work 
soon made him the King’s favourite. King Bhanudeva 
had no son and he loved Kapila as his own son. 

‘Why not I adopt him as my son?’ he thought to 
himself. As Kings’ thoughts do not take time to turn 
into action, Kapila was soon adopted as the King’s 
son. 


Kapila was carefully educated. Besides books, 
he also learnt the art of war and soon become the 
captain of the army. He even won some battles for 
the King. He thus quickly rose in popularity. 

In his last days. King Bhanudeva called his 
minister and said, “You all know I’ve adopted Kapila 
as my son. It is my desire that after my death lie should 
be the King.” 

Thus, Kapila, the cowherd boy, over whose head 
the snake had once spread its hood, become king at 
last and came to be known as Kapilendra Deva. 

Kasia, the old friend of Kapila, heard this great 
news. But Kasia was still a cowherd. He remem- 
bered the promise of Kapila. Many were doubts 
as to whether Kapila would keep his word. Now that 
he was king, whether he would even know him. But 
his faith in his friend made him decide to go to Puri 
and meet Kapila. He said to himself, ‘I will go to him 
and see if he keeps his word.’ 

Having come to Puri, Kasia found that it was 
not easy to enter the King’s palace. The gate-keeper 
would not let him in. Kasia made many attempts to 



HOW KASIA MET KAPILA 


79 


enter the palace and meet his old friend. But who 
would believe the story of his boyhood days and friend- 
ship with the King? 

Kasia said to himself, ‘But I must see the King 
by hook or by crook. Only if I can meet him, all shall 
be well.’ 

That evening he sat for a long time musing on a 
plan. At night, like a thief, he scaled over the palace 
wall. Of course, he was quickly caught and produced 
before the King the next morning. 

“What have you to say for yourseif, you wretched 
thief?” asked the King who could not recognise Kasiu. 

Kasia stared at Kapila, “Oh King, do you not 
recognise your old friend, the cowherd Kasia? Per- 
haps, you will know me if I tell you of the snake with 
its hood over your head sheltering you from the mid-day 
sun. 1 am the same Kasia, your boyhood friend. 
Of ten I came to your palace gate and begged to be let 
in. I was refused by your palace guards. Then I 
decided that I could meet you only if I entered the 
palace as a thief.” 

From his royal throne the King came down, 
embraced Kasia and received him with great honour. 
The next day Kasia was appointed as one of the King’s 
ministers and his chief adviser. 

This was how Kapila made good his promise to 
his old friend Kasia. 



13 

A LAZY BRAHMAN AND WHAT 
HAPPENED TO HIM 

L ONG, long ago there lived a Brahman who 
was very poor. He earned his living by begging 
from door to door and supported himself and his old 
mother with the alms he received daily. 

One day after wandering from place to place, to 
his bad luck, he did not get even a handful of rice. 
That day he said to himself, ‘Let me not return home 
today with the empty bowl. ? 

So he took a different path away from home. 
As he walked along, he came across a lake with crystal- 
clear water. Now the Brahman was very hungry. 
When he saw the lake, he thought to himself, ‘Let me, 
at least, quench my thirst by drinking some water 
here.’ 


He sat on a stone on the edge of the water. He 
stepped down, cupped his hands and raised a handful 
of water to his mouth. The thought of food was 
uppermost in his mind, and now with each handful 
of water he imagined he was eating food. He raised 
one handful to his mouth and said aloud, “Now, this 
is rice.” With the next handful he said, “This is 
curry.” Thus he mentioned names of different dishes 
and went on drinking. 

It was believed, that in that lake there lived 
Mother Ganga. She heard his piteous words. She 
could not bear to see the Brahman suffering so much 
from hunger. Nothing was impossible to her because 
she was a goddess. She took note of all the items of 
food mentioned by the Brahman. These different 
dishes she put in cups of lotus leaves. Arranging the 



A LAZY BRAHMAN AND WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM 81 


cups inside an earthen pot, she pushed the pot on the 
water towards the Brahman. To his surprise, the 
Brahman suddenly found an earthen pot floating 
towards him. He pulled it, and lifted the lid and, to 
his great joy, saw delicious dishes inside. The pot 
was filled with fine rice cooked in ghee, fish cooked 
with mustard and garlic, rice-pudding and a variety of 
sweets. This was, indeed, a dream to the hungry 
Brahman. He looked around to see who was the kina 
giver. But not seeing anybody he felt sure that it 
was the hand of the Goddess who provided the deli- 
cacies. He lost no time in greedily swallowing as much 
as he could eat. Much was still left, a id this he carried 
home for his mother. 

The mother had gone out at that time. On retim- 
ing home, she found her son fast asleep with a full 
stomach. In the room, she got the smell of good 
food and saw an earthen pot hanging from the 
beam on a rope bag. She promptly took it out and found 
all the delicacies inside. From the backyard, she cut 
out a banana leaf and spreading the different kinds of 



82 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


food on it, she ate the best meal she ever hpd in her 
life. 


Soon the son awoke from his sleep and narrated 
to his mother, in detail, the story of their good fortune. 
Mother and son were most happy and decided that this 
way of getting food was the simplest and the easiest. 
Thereafter, the son did not go out begging, but daily 
went to the lake and repeated the same formula. The 
same result followed. Daily the pot of food came to 
him without fail. 

For a long time, this continued. Of course, the 
Brahman and his mother became well-fed and be- 
came more lazy than ever. The Goddess not wanting 
to encourage laziness, decided to stop this. Next day, 
the Brahman went to the lake and repeated the formula. 
The pot came as usual. But when he took off the lid, 
instead of the dishes, he found something else. The 
pot had been packed full with blows and kicks. As 
the lid was lifted, the blows and the kicks fell upon the 
Brahman one after another. This went on till he 
groaned in pain. Only when he put back the lid, did 
the blows stop. 

Then, a mischievous idea struck the Brahman, 
‘Why should not my mother also share this?’ asked 
the Brahman to himself. He carried the pot home, 
and hung it as before from the beam. His mother 
returning home, quickly took out the pot to enjoy the 
good food. But to her horror, instead of the flavour 
of the dishes, out jumped the blows and the kicks 
and fell upon the woman on all sides. Promptly, she 
put the lid back on the pot and carried it to the back- 
yard. 


Not far from her house there lived a rich 
‘Mahajan 1 .’ That night thieves broke into the 

1. Businessman. 



A LAZY BRAHMAN AND WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM 83 


MahajarCs house and stole much gold and silver. 
These, they carried and came to the Brahman’s back- 
yard to divide the valuables among themselves. One 
of the thieves noticed the pot, and being curious, 
opened the lid. Sure enough, heavy blows and kicks 
rained upon the group of thieves. They were taken by 
surprise and did not know where the blows came from. 
In their panic, they ran away leaving behind the booty. 
As the pot remained open, the blows and the kicks 
followed after the thieves. 

Early next morning, the Brahm? .i and his mother 
were amazed to find the valuables sea tered in the back- 
yard. With the treasure they lived happily ever after- 
wards. But the lesson of the Goddess was not lost 
upon them. They gave up laziness and engaged them- 
selves in useful work. 


••• 



14 

WHAT GOD ALLOWS IS FOR MAN’S GOOD 

O NCE there lived a king whose minister was a 
pious man. The minister often made pilgrimages 
to holy places, and arranged kirtans 1 and palas 2 
for the benefit of the people. He even gave away 
half of his salary in charity. He had great faith in 
God and believed that God is the Protector and Preserver 
of all. He is the Father of all men and all are His 
children. Whatever God does is for the good of 
man. Man often does not understand His ways. 
But sometimes, God shows how an evil can turn out 
to be good. Even in times of sorrow, the minister 
would, therefore, say, “What God allows is for man’s 
good.” 


It was summer time — the season for mangoes. 
The King was very fond of this delicious fruit. One 
day, while cutting a mango, he accidentally cut off 
his little finger. When news of this mishap reached 
the minister’s ears, he went to the palace to see the 
King. He expressed sympathy and said, “Do not be 
troubled, Oh King. What God has allowed to happen 
is for your good.” 

The King was mightly enraged at his words. 
He thought, ‘How dare my minister speak such unkind 
words to me! How can the loss of a finger be of 
any good to any one ? He does not understand my 
pain. Well, I must teach this minister a lesson some 
day.’ However, the King did not say anything aloud, 
neither did he forget the unkind words of the minister. 

One day the King invited his minister to go out 
hunting with him. As they went along in the forest, 

1. Group singing of religious songs. 

2. Acting of religious stories. 



WHAT GOD ALLOWS IS FOR MAN’S GOOD 85 

the King saw an old well. Thick bushes and creepers 
had almost hidden it from sight. The King pretended 
to be thirsty. He asked the minister, “Is the well 
very deep ? See, if there is any water in it.” 

At once, the good man bent down to look into 
the well. Quickly the King gave the signal to his men 
to push the minister into the well. When the good 
man was thrown into the well, the King looked down 
at him and sneered: “Let us see if your God can save 
you. If not, what has happened tj you is for your 
good and you should be content wth your lot. Ha, 
ha, ha.” The King then left the place with his 
followers. 

Not long after this, they spotted a stag and gave 
chase to it. They followed the animal deeper and 
deeper into the forest. All of a sudden, there came 
out of a grove, ‘Savaras’ 1 yelling wildly after them. 
The Savaras were armed with bows and arrows. They 
wore head-dresses of feathers of many colours. Beads 
of coral hung about their necks and their bodies were 
tattooed from head to foot. They looked so fearful 
that the King and his men turned and fled. The 
King, however, could not run as fast as his followers. 
Soon he was caught by the Savaras. He was bound 
and carried by them to be sacrificed before their goddess, 
Chandi. 

As was the custom among the Savaras, the victim 
had to be bathed and prepared before he was offered 
in sacrifice. So the King’s body was anointed with 
turmeric paste. Vermilion marks were put on his 
neck and forehead. A garland of red hibiscus was 
placed round his neck. After these were done, they 
examined the victim to see if there were any blemishes, 
because the victim for the sacrifice should be perfect 


1. An aboriginal tribe of Orissa. The Savaras are great hunters. 



86 


POLK TALES OF ORISSA 


in body. While examining, they found that the King 
was without a finger. The Savaras were disappointed 
and they said to each other, “We cannot offer this 
man with a blemish to the Goddess. She will not accept 
the sacrifice and her wrath will be upon us.” Therefore, 
they set the King free. It was then that the King 
understood how the loss of his finger had saved his life. 
He fully grasped the truth of the minister’s words, 
‘What God has allowed to happen is for your good.* 

The king returned to the palace and at once 
sent his men to take the minister out of the well and 
bring him to the palace. As soon as the minister 
arrived, the King narrated to him how the loss of his 
finger had saved his life from certain death. “How 
truly you said, ‘What God allows is for man’s good’. 
I did not understand your words then and treated you 
so cruelly. Please forgive me, ’ ’ said the King. 

The minister was greatly touched and replied, 
“Oh King, do you not see God’s hand in our lives? 
You have done no wrong by casting me into the well. 
That has saved my life too. God has not only saved 
you but also saved me from the hands of the Savaras. 
If you had not thrown me into that well, the Savaras 
would surely have taken me and offered me in sacrifice, 
for I have no defect in my body.” He further added, 
“Everything that God allows is for our good.” 


••• 



WHY THE MISER LOST HIS WEALTH 


15 


G OPI SAHU was a rich money-lender, who owned 
much landed property. He was a miser who loved 
money more than anything else in life. He was 
ever eager > to recieve but never willing to part with 
even a paisa. 

Gopi had a number of labourer., working in his 
fields. He was a cruel taskmaster, v, ho exacted work 
from the labourers but grudged paying them their 
due wages. Sometimes, he would put off payments 
for days together. The poor village folk suffered 
much on this account. 

Sura, one of his labourers, had no other means 
of income except the wages he earned daily. Often 
a whole week would pass off before he would get even 
a day’s wage from Gopi Sahu. 

The poor man’s misery knew no bounds. One 
day, there was no food at home. At the end of the 
day, he went to the rich man and begged for his wages. 
The miser, unwilling to part with money, said, “1 can’t 
pay you today. I am very busy just now. Come 
to work tomorrow and I’ll see about it.” 

Sura explained, “There is no food at home. 
My children have been without food since yesterday. 
Please give me, at least, one day’s wage now, so that I 
can buy some rice and salt.” 

Gopi pretended to be busy and waving his hand 
at the labourer, said, “Go away, and don’t trouble 
ine.” And he quickly went inside the house. 

That very evening, news reached Gopi Sahu 
that his crops near the forest were being damaged by 



88 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


wild boars. On hearing this, Gopi said to ‘his wife, 
“Get ready my dinner soon. I am going out to the 
forest to keep watch over the crops tonight. I’ll 
not only guard the crops, but I may also be able 
to kill a wild boar or two and bring home the meat.” 

“Don’t go alone. Take someone else with you. 
It is not safe to be in the forest!, the whole night, all 
by yourself,” advised his wife. 

“Foolish woman, you don’t understand. If 
I take someone with me, won’t he also share the 
meat if I kill a boar ? That’s why I’ll go alone. Don’t 
fear, I can take care of myself. I’ll spend the night 
up a mancha '. No wild animal can attack me up 
there.” 


It was a dark night. Gopi was sitting on the 
mancha built on a huge banyan tree. The forest 
air was filled with the cries of the wild beasts. Sudden- 
ly, he heard a rushing sound as of many winds. The 
place was lighted up and he saw a strange sight. 

Once a week the gods were wont to assemble 
at the foot of the same banyan tree with Brahma 
presiding, to hear reports of the three worlds— heaven, 
earth and the underworld. Messengers from the 
three regions brought reports to Brahma. 

Brahma asked, “Oh messengers, what news 
have you brought from the three worlds ?” 

The messenger from heaven spoke first. “The 
inhabitants of heaven are happy and contented, my 
Lord. There is nothing special to report,” he said. 


1. Elevated platform used for protection and in shooting wild animals. 



Why the miser lost his wealth 


89 


The messenger from the underworld reported, 
“My Lord, dwellers of the underworld are content 
with their lot and there is nothing special to report.” 

The messenger from the earth spoke last. He 
said, “AH is well on earth, oh Lord, except in one village 
people are suffering due to the cruelty of a miser. 
Some are even going to lose their lives due to his 
hardheartedness.” 

“How is this? Explain,” ordered Brahma. 

“There is a money-lender w : io has acquired 
much wealth. He is miserly and does not regularly 
pay his labourers They have not got their v iges 
for the last seven days. One of them who has seven 
mouths to feed, is now in great distress. He lias 
no money to buy food for his starving children. They 
will soon die if something is not done at once,” 
replied the messenger from the earth. 

Brahma’s heart was touched when he heard 
this. At once, he ordered the messenger, “Take 
this bag of gold pieces. Make an opening in the 
roof of the poor man’s hut and pour the gold through 
it. That will save him and his family and provide 
for them in plenty.” 

With this, the assembly of the gods came to an 
end. Well-hidden in the banyan tree, Gopi heard 
everything. 

Gopi hastened home early in the morning and 
quickly sent for Sura, the labourer. When Sura 
arrived, he welcomed him warmly and said, “I am 
sorry I sent you away last night without paying you 
your wages. Now I want to give you not only your 
wages but also make a gift of my big house to you. 
I have lived here long enough. I am tired of its 



POLK TALES OF ORISSA 


90 

luxury. Hereafter, I wish to live in a small cottage 
and spend the rest of my life in meditation. Here is 
the money for your wages. Take it and come and 
stay in my house with your family and I’ll go and stay 
in yours. Let’s make the exchange at once.” 

Sura, who had known Gopi all along as a bad 
pay-master, was now completely taken aback at this 
grand offer. He did not know what to reply and 
feebly said, “What will a poor man like me do with 
such a big house !” 

“No, no, I’m serious. I truly want to make 
a gift of the house to you. From this moment this 
house is yours. Move in here with your family 
today before nightfall and I’ll go and occupy your 
cottage,” said Gopi. 

Sura was overwhelmed at this unexpected good 
fortune. The change was soon made. Gopi found 
himself in Sura’s cottage before sunset, exactly as he 
had planned. 

Gopi was so impatient to get the bag of gold 
that he could not wait for Brahma’s messenger to 
come and make a hole through the roof of the cottage. 
He brought a ladder, climbed up himself and carefully 
removed some of the thatch, thus making a big hole 
in the roof. Vainly, he waited the whole night looking 
up for the gold to come down. 

The messenger, however, came with the bag of 
gold, but finding Sura’s cottage occupied by another 
man, returned without dropping the gold. Thus a 
whole week passed, and every night the messenger 
came and returned with the bag of gold. 

At the next assembly of the gods, Brahma asked 
the messenger from the earth, “Have you delivered 
the bag of gold to the poor labourer?” 



WHY THE MISER LOST HIS WEALTH 


91 


“No, my Lord,” replied the messenger. “Every 
time I went to the cottage with the gold, 1 found it 
occupied by the miser himself. He has exchanged 
houses with the labourer in the hope of getting the 
gold himself. Now the poor labourer lives in comfort 
in the miser’s big house.” 

B rahma was happy to hear this. He said, “Now, 
our objective has been achieved. There is no further 
need to deliver the gold at the cottage.” 

Gopi spent many sleepless nigh.s in the cottage 
vainly staring at the roof for the precious gold to 
arrive. But as there was no sight of the bag of gold, 
it struck him, at last, that the gods might have char jed 
their plan. Again, his feeble conscience smote him 
and he asked himself, ‘Is this my punishment for 
my hard-hearted treatment of those who worked 
under me?’ He thought, ‘Surely, the gods are dis- 
pleased with me. 1 have led a selfish life all through. 
Now, 1 must do something to gain peace of mind.’ 

Gopi left home and went on a long pilgrimage. 


••• 



16 


THE STORY OF RAMDHOL 


T HERE was a time when Orissa was divided into 
many princely States'. Ram dhol was the brother 
of a ruler of one such State. He lived in the royal 
palace and led a life of ease and comfort. Good food 
and costly clothes and companions to play with, made 
his days enjoyable and care free. But his happy 
days soon came to an end. His brother, the Raja, 
died suddenly. The new Raja hated Ramdhol and 
treated him with suspicion. He feared that Ramdhol 
might rise against him and attempt to dethrone him. 
Soon, Ramdhol’s allowance was stopped. His ser- 
vants left him one by one. He found it hard to make 
both ends meet. He and his wife were reduced to 
very bad straits. 

At last, Ramdhol’s wife, who was a sensible 
woman, said to her husband, “The new King does not 
want us here. He will starve us to death. Don’t 
you think, it is dangerous to stay here any longer? 
Let us leave this place and go elsewhere. It will also 
be easy to work where people do not know us. So 
let us move over to the neighbouring State.” 

One dark night, they secretly left the palace. 
All night long they walked ana before dawn, 
they crossed over to the neighbouring State. They 
kept on walking until they were very tired. As the 
morning advanced, the sun became too hot and find- 
ing a stream by the wayside, they stopped for rest. 
They were hungry and too tired to walk any further. 

Just then, they heard a cry. Someone was selling 
puffed rice — “Puffed rice, hot and crisp”. They bought 

1 . The feudatory States of Orissa were liquidated along with the other 
feudatory or princely States of India. 



THE STORY OF RAMDHOL 


93 


some. Ramdhol’s wife made a little bowl of lotus 
leaf to hold the puffed rice and placed it on the bank. 
They were hot and dusty and wanted to bathe before 
eating the puffed rice. While they were bathing in 
the stream, unknown to them, a snake went up to 
the bowl and poured its venom into it. Soon after, 
the king’s elephant came that way and was attracted 
by the puffed rice. The elephant was eating it all up, 
when Ramdhol, finding their precious little food 
gone, got furious and struck the elephant with his 
fist. Hardly had the elephant taken a few steps be- 
fore it fell down dead. The mahout 1 as v, ell as Ramdhol 
were amazed at the sight. The huge animal actually 
died of poisoning, but they believed that it died of 
the blow. 

‘What great strength this man has !’ thought the 
mahout. Let me run for life, lest I too, fall a victim 
to his blow.’ And he ran for his life. He went to 
the Raja and said, “Sir, I saw a strange sight — a 
man so strong that with one blow, he killed your 
elephant.” 

The Raja was astonished to hear this. The 
loss of his elephant did not seem to worry the Raja. 
Instead, he became curious to see the man who could 
kill an elephant with one blow. 

‘It would be wonderful,’ he thought, ‘to have 
such a man, with such strength under my service. My 
enemies would be afraid of me.’ 

He said to his servants, “Go and bring him to 
me at once. Let us have him at any cost, for such a 
strong man in our service will be a terror to our foes.” 


1. Elephant-keeper. 



94 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


So the Raja sent his attendants with- the royal 
umbrella and palanquin 1 for Ramdhol to be brought 
to the palace with pomp and honour. 

When Ramdhol arrived, the Raja received him 
with great honour and said, “We are pleased to have a 
warrior like you. We admire your strength and we 
shall be happy to have you in our service. We will 
make ample provision for your comfort.” 

Ramdhol was surprised beyond measure at the 
turn of fortune. He replied, “Nothing can give me 
greater pleasure than to be of service to you. Sir, 
your servant humbly accept the honour.” 

Thereafter, Ramdhol had nothing to worry about. 
He became well-known throughout the State as one 
who had killed an elephant with a single blow. His 
days passed by happily. 

The two neighbouring States were often at war 
for their claims over some villages on the border. 
Sometime after Ramdhol was taken into the Raja’s 
service, war broke out between the two States. Both 
sides were equal in strength. But the Raja under 
whom Ramdhol worked, was very confident of victory. 
Was not Ramdhol a warrior whom none could face? 
The Raja called him and said, “Ramdhol, I appoint 
you as the captain of my army. You will lead my 
soldiers to battle and, I am sure, we will win with 
your help.” 

Ramdhol was completely taken aback. He could 
think of no way of escape and nodded assent. He 
returned home and narrated everything to his wife. 
“I am now in a fix. With your advice I left my country 
and came here. Now, what am I to do ? I have never 


\ . Covered litter carried by four men. 



THE STORY OF RAMDHOL 


95 


held a sword in my hand, never in my life have I gone 
to the battle-field, leave alone leading an army. If I 
disobey the King’s order, I shall lose my life; if I go to 
the battle-field I shall get killed. Tell me now, what ’ 
is to be done. How can I escape from this ?” he asked. * 

His wife replied, “Be brave, have no fear. With 
a little commonsense and a little courage, you will 
succeed. I will tell you what you should do. Go, 
and ask the King to give you a horse which has never 
been harnessed. Get also a sword and a long rope. 
I’ll tell you what to do.” 

Ramdhol got all that he wanted from the King. 
He said, “Sir, permit me to go ahead and let the ar uy 
follow behind.” 

Next day, at dawn, Ramdhol’s wife woke up, 
had her bath and performed puja. Then with sandal- 
wood paste, she marked her husband’s forehead and j 
prayed for victory. 



96 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Romdhol had never before sat on horseback, 
neither had he held a sword in his hand. His clever 
wife therefore set him on the horse and bound his legs 
to the animal. After this she handed him the sword 
and whipped the horse from behind. Enraged, the 
animal galloped at terrific speed. The soldiers mar- 
ched behind the drummers. The noise of it all threw 
the untrained horse into panic. In wild haste, it 
ran towards a grove of palm trees. As the animal 
passed through two palm trees standing side by side, 
Ramdhol feared that he would be dashed to death 
against them. Forgetting that he was bound to the 
horse, Rambhol, in great fear, clutched at the 
trees with each of his arms. Luckily the palms 
were old and rotten and were easily uprooted. 

Thus, Ramdhol presented a formidable sight 
to the enemy. He looked like Bhima, the great hero 
of the Mahabharata 1 . The very sight of a man on 
horseback advancing towards them, holding a palm 
tree in each arm, put the enemy to fright. The enemy 
hosts turned and fled. Ramdhol and his men 
pursued them and killed many. 

In triumph, Ramdhol returned from the battle- 
field. He was given full credit for the victory. The 
Raja was immensely pleased with him and bestowed 
on him handsome rewards. 

••• 


1. The great Indian Epic. 



17 


FOUR RULES OF CONDUCT 


I N the village of Madhupur, far in the interior, 
there once lived a Brahman named Harihar. He 
was very poor. True, his father had left him some 
property. But, as is well-known, laziness is such that 
it would eat up anything and leave the owner in misery. 
Harihar was a lazy man. Bit by bit, all that he had 
went for sale and in the end, he and his wife had 
nothing to live upon. 

Basanti, his wife, was a spirited woman and con- 
tinuing want made her more spirited. She gave no 
peace to Harihar. “You sluggard, why do you want 
to kill your wife with hunger?” — were the words 
that were often heard in that little hut. Poor Hari- 
har, what could he do? His wife’s words were hard 
but true. For a few days, he bore it all silently. But 
as her misery increased, Basanti’s angry words 
became sharper than arrows. 

One morning, the lazy Harihar took courage in 
both hands and started oiT. His anger had roused 
him and he repeatedly said to himself, ‘I will go to 
the wide world and try my luck.’ 

In his wanderings, he met a hermit. The good 
man had the reputation of reading the minds of men. 
“Oh friend,” he said, “you look so miserable! What 
is the matter with you?” Intently he looked at Hari- 
har’s sunken cheeks and understood everything. 
Before Harihar had started describing his miseries, 
the kind-hearted hermit invited him to his ashram . 1 
There the two lived together, the hermit sharing with his 
friend the alms he received during the day. 


1. Hermitage. 



98 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


In this way, days passed by. The hermit, how- 
ever, could not long tolerate Harihar’s laziness. His 
pity for the Brahman soon faded out. 

“Look here, my friend,” he said to the Brah- 
man, one morning. “Laziness has no place upon 
this earth. If you try, you can surely make a living 
for yourself. Take my advice and you will never be 
in want. I give you four good rules of conduct. 
Bear these in mind and act accordingly, 

‘Toil like a pariah. 

Eat like a Rajah, 

Speak not the truth to womanhood. 

To the king, never tell falsehood’.” 

Harihar took the advice and treasured all the 
four tips in his memory. ‘How can I ever forget these 
sayings?’ he said to himself. The hermit has said 
that they will give me food, drink and all that I need. 
Wonderful words that will change my future.’ Re- 
counting in his mind these words, Harihar started 
off from the ashram and took the road to the nearest 
village. 

As he came nearer, he saw a big crowd and 
coming up, saw the dead body of a man lying by the 
side of the road. The headman of the village seemed 
to be in distress. He did not know how to dispose 
of the dead^bodyjbf a stranger. 

“No one knows who the fellow was. If we can 
only find out the caste of this wretched corpse! No 
one wishes to touch it,” said the headman. 

“How can we perform the funeral rites of one 
whose caste is not known ?” shouted the young men 
around him. 



FOUR RULES OF CONDUCT 


99 


“But we cannot allow the body to be lying in 
the street,” replied the headman. 

Harihar, who heard everything, understood the 
situation. He remembered the first advice of the 
hermit — ‘Toil like a pariah’. 

He moved forward and said, “I will do the job. 
How much will you pay me ?” 

The villagers were happy at this. Soon a collec- 
tion was made and the headman ha ided five rupees 
to Harihar. Harihar shouldered the dead body and 
alone marched off to the village cremation ground . In 
the usual way, he arranged the fuel and placing the 
dead body on the top, set fire to the wood. Quickly, 
flames rose up and reached the matted locks of the 
dead body’s head. Harihar nearly fainted with 
excitement at what he saw. Real gold mohurs 1 fell 
down from the burning locks. With what joy his greedy 
hands grasped this treasure ! The dead man, who was 
a thief, had hidden the precious gold in knots in his 
thick hair. 

Harihar became suddenly rich and he blessed 
the hermit a thousand times. He lost no time to go 
back to his wife. ‘How happy she would be ! There 
will be plenty and no more want. Surely, my wife 
will dance with joy,’ thought Harihar. 

Wealth made Harihar discreet and shrewd. He 
did not squander his money. But, of course, he 
and his wife ate good food. Had not the hermit given 
him this tip as his second advice ? Harihar and 
Basanti lived' a comfortable life. All their needs were 
fulfilled. They ate rich food and this attracted the 
envious eyes of the neighbours, who wondered at the 
sudden prosperity of Harihar. 


1. Gold coins. 



100 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


“Was not Harihar a poor man just the Other day ? 
How is it that he eats better food than any of us? 
Wherefrom does he get money for all this?” they 
asked one another. But, they could not find any 
clue to this mystery. Harihar had acquired not only 
wealth but also wisdom and he was tongue-tied. 

Basanti’s friend, Nilambari, felt envious at the 
sudden good fortune of her friend. She was deter- 
mined to find out the secret. 

“Come to me tomorrow morning, Nilambari, 
and I will tell you everything,” said Basanti. 

That night, Basanti with a sullen face asked her 
husband, “Am I not your wife? Why do you hide 
things from me ? You never told me wherefrom you 
are getting money for all the good things we en- 
joy and the good food we eat. Do I deserve this 
from you?” 

The hermit’s third advice came to Harihar’s 
mind — ‘Speak not the truth to womanhood’. The 
hermit’s words must be acted upon. He cooked 
up a story and said to his wife, “Why, it is very 
simple. But it is a great secret. Mind, you should 
not utter a word about it to anyone. If one eats 
Kochila 1 fruit mixed with jaggery, lumps of gold will 
come out of his mouth. Look, I warn you, don’t 
tell the secret to anyone.” 

Basanti was very happy and needless to say, 
Nilambari got the secret the next morning. Eagerly, 
Nilambari met her husband and told him every- 
thing. That same night, her husband took a heavy 
dose of Kochila mixed with jaggery. In a couple of 
hours, the poison started to work and the poor man 


1. Kochila is a poisonous fruit. 



FOUR RULES OF CONDUCT 


101 


groaned in pain. Nilambari stayed closed to him 
By the bed-side waiting lor the precious metal 
to come out of his mouth. As death pangs came near, 
his pains increased and he groaned more and more. 
‘Surely, now the gold will come out. His stomach 
is aching to throw it out,* said Nilambari to herself. 
The poor man was dying but Nilambari’s expect- 
ations were growing. After some minutes of intense 
struggle, his mouth widened and the last 
gasping breath left the poor man’s body. Nilambari 
started up to grasp all the gold and stared at her hus- 
band for some time. The motionless b :ad with the pain 
marks all over, loudly told its story and even Nilam- 
bari’s clouded mind understood it. She cried, “Oli 
my husband. Oh my husband. Where is the -old 
and where are you ?” 

Her loud weeping soon drew a crowd around 
the dead man’s body. The villagers who gathered 
round, became suspicious and one of them observed, 
“Why, only a few hours ago, he was as fit as he could 
be I With my own eyes, I saw him briskly returning 
from the field and now I see a dead body ! Surely, 
there must be something behind.” 

Another said, “I am certain, somebody has 
killed him.” 

“Wait a minute,” said the village physician. 
“Don’t you see his mouth? Isn’t there a blue tinge 
in his lips?” Then looking closely at his eyes and 
cheeks, he gravely said, “I have no doubt that this 
is a case of poisoning. If I am proved wrong. 
I’ll give half my property. The village physician’s 
finding convinced everybody present that it was a 
case of poisoning. 

“There can be no second opinion,” said the 
headman of the village and stepping into the next 



102 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


0 

room, he called Nilambari and asked her, “Woman, 
speak the truth. This is a serious matter. Tell us 
what food you gave him and what he ate tonight. 
Mind, if you tell lies, you will be punished.” 

Nilambari narrated all that she had done and 
quickly enough she was taken to the Raja for punish- 
ment. 


Sternly the Raja looked at Nilambari and said, 
“Why have you poisoned your husband and what 
did you profit thereby?” 

“Oh Raja,” said the weeping Nilambari. “I 
am an unfortunate woman. I did not kill my hus- 
band. I never thought that he would die. It all 
happened this way. My friend Basanti and her husband 
were once poor. Suddenly they became rich. I asked 
Basanti wherefrom they got the money. She en- 
quired from her husband and told me, in great confi- 
dence, the secret of their sudden wealth. She said 
that her husband ate Kochila fruit mixed with jaggery 
and real gold came out of his mouth. I am a cursed 
woman. Why did I believe her? I gave Kochila 
and jaggery to my husband and he died. Now I 
wish I were dead too. Oh my husband,” she wept 
aloud. 

The Raja became furious and immediately sent 
for Harihar and his wife. 

“You scoundrel, you are meant for the hang- 
man’s rope”, he roared at Harihar. 

Harihar knelt down before the Raja and said, 
“Sir, be patient and hear my story. I was a poor 
Brahman, daily toiling for a little food but even that 
did not fall to my lot. One day, I met a hermit and 
the learned hermit gave me four rules of conduct: 



FOUR RULES OF CONDUCT 


103 


‘Toil like a pariah, 

Eat like a Rajah, 

Speak not the truth to womanhood, 

To the king, never tell falsehood.’ 

I treasured in my mind these words of wisdom and 
vowed to follow them.” 

Then step by step, Harihar narrated how at 
every stage, obedience to the counsel of the hermit 
brought him good fortune. 

“When my wife pestered me to reveal the secret 
of my wealth, I followed the hermit’s third rule of 
conduct — ‘Speak not the truth to womanhood’. 
Accordingly, I told a lie to my wife. At the time, 
I little knew that the result would work out in death 
to an innocent person. Sir, I have narrated truthfully 
everything in obedience to the fourth rule of conduct 
given to me by the hermit — ‘To the king, never tell 
falsehood’,’’ concluded Harihar. 

The Raja was greatly amused at this story. He 
forgave Harihar and sent him away. 

On the way, while returning home, the Brahman 
again repeated in his mind the four rules of conduct. 
‘Aha, how learned and all-knowing the hermit must 
be! Thrice blessed be my Guru 1 , who gave me such 
unfailing rules of conduct’. Musing these words, 
Harihar returned home. 

••• 


1. Teacher. 



18 


MAN’S DESTINY IS NOT IN HIS HANDS 

O NCE there was a Raja whose name was 
Jayadeva. He had many Pundits who attended 
his durbar. But there was one in his kingdom who 
was very learned but outspoken. He would not flatter 
any one, nor would he go to the king’s durbar and sing 
liis praises. The Raja was annoyed and one day, 
calling him, angrily said, “You think you are very 
learned. But who cares for your learning outside 
my durbar ? Do you realize that without my favour 
no one will respect you?” 

The proud Pundit would not be cowed down. 
He answered, “Sir, you are mistaken. A Pundit is 
a Pundit wherever he may be just as a Raja is a Raja 
wherever he goes and will receive a Raja’s honour.” 

“What? Dare you retort like this to a Raja?” 
he roared and calling one of his guards ordered that 
the Pundit be immediately taken and kept in prison 
until his words were proved true, otherwise he would 
be put to death. 

The next day, Jayadeva left his palace secretly 
and went out in disguise to prove the truth of the 
Pundit’s words. 

In the course of his journey he came to a jungle. 
There was a tree in which a bird had built its nest. 
A huge snake was crawling up the tree and was about 
to devour the young ones. Moved with pity, the 
Raja killed the snake and cut it to pieces with his 
sword. 

Soon the parent birds returned to the nest with 
food for the young ones. Before taking the food. 



man’s destiny is not in his hands 


105 


the young ones chirped, “Mother, mother. What 
a danger we escaped from ! There down below, 
the wicked snake is lying dead. It was about to eat 
us up. Even as its jaws were wide open to devour us, 
this kind man killed it and saved us.” 

The parent birds said to each other, “Let us do 
a good turn to this man. He has saved our little 
ones.” The grateful birds, then said to the Raja, 
“Follow us, Master, and we will repay your great 
kindness.” 

They led the Raja to an as hr a n l in the jungle, 
where a hermit was in meditation. The Raja bowed 
before the hermit and prayed for a boon. The hermit 
handed him a twig, saying, “Take this twig. It will 
enable you to take any shape you wish and you can 
also be yourself again when you so desire.” 

With the magic twig in hand, Jayadeva resumed 
his journey and came into the territory of another 
Raja, by name Kesari. Raja Kesari was boastful 
and thought much of himself. He did not believe 
in God and thought that as a Raja he was all-powerful. 
He had a daughter, who was his opposite in nature. 
The princess was humble, kind-hearted and devout. 
She spent much time in worship and meditation. 
Naturally, there were frequent arguments between 
father and daughter, who did not agree on many 
things. 

One day, at the end of a heated talk, the Raja 
declared in a fit of anger, “Look, I know not about 
your God. You are in my hands. I can make you 
a queen or a beggar just as I please.” 

“Certainly not, father,” replied the princess. 
“As a Raja, you may think that you are all-powerful, 


1. Hermitage. 



106 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


but please do not forget that you are merely a' man and 
therefore subject to Destiny.” 

In a fit of anger, to show that he could do 
anything, the Raja immediately ordered that his 
daughter be married to a blind beggar. Cheerfully, 
the princess accepted her fate. She lived with her 
blind husband in a cottage and looked after him. 

One day, to her great joy and surprise, the blind 
man suddenly turned into a handsome prince. The 
prince was no other than Raja Jayadeva, who had 
transformed himself, with the aid of the magic twig 
to the blind man. 

Joyfully, Jayadeva and the princess went to 
Raja Kesari. There Jayadeva narrated his story. 
Raja Kesari was happy to meet his daughter and 
to know that he had actually given the princess in 
marriage to the handsome Raja Jayadeva, instead 
of to a blind beggar. He understood that his daughter 
was right and that man is subject to Destiny. He 
now declared, “Surely the destiny of man is in the 
hands of God. We can do nothing by ourselves.” 

Raja Kesari had no son of his own, so he adopted 
Jayadeva as his son. Thus, Jayadeva became ruler 
of both the kingdoms. He now realized the truth 
of his Pundit’s words that a Raja will be a Raja where- 
ever he may go, and that a Pundit will be honoured 
as a Pundit wherever he may be. 

Thus, the Pundit’s words proved true. Realizing 
the truth and the wisdom of his words, Jayadeva went 
back to his state, released the Pundit from prison and 
gave him numerous rewards. 




PUNISHMENT FOR BREAKING A VOW 

B ISHNU Sahu was a rich merchant of Jaipur. 

He was hard-working and thrifty and gradually 
became rich and richer. Soon the story of his 
wealth spread far and wide, but along with his wealth 
his miserly habits also became widely known. All 
who knew him spoke of him as the Miser of Jaipur. 
Bishnu’s mind was always on his ricKs, so much so 
that he ate as little as possible and saved as much as 
he could. He had no children and people wondered 
for whom he was amassing all the wealth. Bisl uu 
did not understand why people talked about his riches. 
‘Surely, it’s none of their business. What I save is 
my own and I am master thereof. No one need poke 
one’s nose into my affairs,’ he said to himself. 

One day, while bathing in the village pond, he 
noticed a date palm full of ripe dates. ‘Surely, I 
can save my lunch today if I can fill my stomach with 
the dates,’ he thought. 

Bishnu looked around to see if anyone was present 
and finding none, he climbed up the tree. As he stretch- 
ed forth his hands to pluck the dates, the slender palm 
began to sway dangerously because of his weight. 
Bishnu was greatly frightened. ‘There is nothing 
more precious than life,’ he said to himself and he 
prayed, ‘Oh gods, save me. If I live and get home 
safely, I will feed 1 a hundred Brahmans.* 

Trembling with fear, he slowly climbed down 
a few steps. Then he looked at the ground which 
was not very far below. He got a little courage 
and the cost of feeding a hundred Brahmans vexed 


1. A custom with the Hindus— a religious act supposed to propitiate the gods. 



108 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


him. Quickly, he changed his vow. ‘I will feed* Brahmans 
all right, but not so many as a hundred. Fifty of 
them will do.’ 

Soon he came further down the palm tree and 
the ground looked rather close. He had no fear of 
death now. He became bolder this time. ‘I won’t 
die if I fall down from here. Feeding fifty Brahmans!’ 
He thought to himself. ‘Why? It would cost me 
such a lot! With half that money, I and my wife 
could live for several months. But a vow is a vow. 
I will not break my vow and I will feed five Brahmans.’ 

Quickly, he came further down and his feet 
almost reached the ground. ‘Feeding as many as 
five Brahmans! What waste of money! But I will 
not break my vow. I will feed one Brahman only. 
I don’t mind the cost,’ he said to himself. 

With a heavy heart, he came along the village 
path calculating how much he would have to spend 
to feed a Brahman. He thought, ‘A Brahman eats 
quite a lot. How can I do it cheaply ?’ 

But his conscience said, ‘A vow is a vow. I 
will not break my vow,’ he said to himself. ‘I will 
feed a Brahman, surely, but I will invite one who suffers 
from stomach trouble and cannot eat much.’ 

On reaching home, he thought of Gobinda 
Misra, a Brahman, who was known to be suffering 
from colic pains frequently and Bishnu invited him 
to a meal one day. 

On the appointed day, Bishnu had to go out on 
work. So he called his wife and instructed her, 
“The Brahman is coming today. Feed him well and 
give him also two or three coppers as dakhina . 1 
See that he goes satisfied.” 

1. Gift of money given to Brahmans^ 



PUNISHMENT FOR BREAKING A VOW 


109 


Gobinda came all right, but he would not eat. 
He said, “I have colic and I can’t eat I will take only 
my dakhina. I want a hundred silver coins.” 

“A hundred silver coins!” exclaimed Bishnu’s 
wife, staring at the Brahman in surprise. “How can 
that be?” 

The Brahman replied, “You see, I cannot eat 
and I will take only my dakhina. You can not refuse 
that to a Brahman whom you have invited. Unless 
you give me one hundred coins, 1 am rot going to leave 
this place.” 

There was nc escape for Bishnu’s wife. Besi ies, 
she remembered her husband’s words — ‘send the 
Brahman satisfied’. So, she reluctantly counted out 
the money and Gobinda Misra went home satisfied. 

Bishnu, on his return, was shocked to learn that 
the Brahman had taken away as many as a hundred 
silver coins. He was so pained at this that he nearly 
fainted. However, he soon recovered from the shock. 
For a long time, he showered abuses upon his poor 
wife. The woman’s only excuse was, “You wanted 
me to send him satisfied and he insisted upon a 
hundred silver coins.” 

The merchant soon made up his mind to go to 
the Brahman and recover the money. ‘One hundred 
silver coins! One hundred silver coins! I must get 
back the money,’ he muttered to himself. Taking 
his umbrella, he started for Gobinda’s house. 

When Gobinda saw the merchant from a dis- 
tance, he quickly went inside the house and tried to 
play a trick on him. He rolled himself up in a mat 
and feigned illness. He asked his wife to sit near his 
feet ana loudly moan over his sickness. 



110 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


Accordingly, when Bishnu arrived at* Gobinda’s 
house, the latter’s wife was crying loudly, “Woe unto 
me ! What am I to do if my husband dies? Why did 
he go and eat in that miser’s house? How many 
times I asked him not to go there! But, oh my fate, 
my cursed fate, he would not listen. What wretched 
food he ate there, that he suffers so ! What am I to 
do if he dies ? Oh, my cursed luck! Oh, oh!” 

Soon the neighbours gathered to console her. 
“Look at my fate,” she cried again. “I will go to 
the Raja and tell him everything.” Bishnu was 
frightened out of his wits when he heard these words. 
From the crowd came whispers, “Miser, heartless 
man, murderer, to treat a Brahman guest thus!” 

‘How am I to escape from this danger?’ Bishnu 
asked himself. Then an idea struck him. Quietly, 
he went into the room, slipped his gold ring into the 
woman’s hand, whispering in her ears, “Please, be 
quiet. Take this and don’t cry any more.” Then 
he left Gobinda’s house as fast as his legs could carry 
him. 


Perhaps, the miser would have spent very much 
less if he had kept his first vow and fed a hundred 
Brahmans. 


••• 



20 


THE TWO FRIENDS 


M AGUNI and Gokuli were deeply attached 
to each other. Maguni’s father was a weaver 
and Gokuli’s father was a blacksmith, who lived next 
door to the weaver. Being neighbours and of the same 
age, Maguni and Gokuli became great friends. They 
played together, roamed about together and often 
went together fishing in the village ^ond. Stealing 
fruits from orchards was their favourite pastime. 
However, the bond between the boys was not love 
but just mischief. 

When they reached school-going age, their 
parents put them in the village school and hoped that 
in due course, the boys would apply their minds to 
their studies. But the lads hated the school and 
studies. How could they catch fish in the village 
pond if they went to school in the morning? Catching 
fish was delightful, but the school was dreadful. 
Every morning the boys disappeared pretending that 
they were going to school. But they were seen during 
school time in others’ gardens or wandering in the 
neighbouring wood. When their parents discovered 
this, it was really too late. Maguni and Gokuli 
often got beatings from their fathers, but no amount 
of punishment could change their ways. 

At last, the boys felt that their fathers did not 
understand them. “They have no sense ,” said Maguni, 
“they don’t understand such simple pleasure which 
boys love.” 

“No, they don’t,” rejoined Gokuli. “My father 
even beats me for this. I don’t like being beaten every 
day.” 



112 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


“Nor do I,” promptly responded Maguni. “We 
must do something about it.” 

Thereafter, the boys planned to run away from 
their homes. Swiftly, the plans were put into action 
and one morning, without anybody’s knowledge, the 
boys left their homes. The morning air was cool 
and refreshing and they were happy to be free. They 
talked of the future. They were sure that they could 
manage very well and earn a living for themselves. 

“Certainly,” said Gokuli, “if we work, we can 
earn much. ’ 

“Yes,” rejoined Maguni, “and without scolding 
and beating.” 

They passed through many villages and came to 
one, where they saw a house which had a big garden 
and a large cowshed. There, they asked the owner, 
a rich farmer, for work. 

“What work can you do, my boys ?” asked the 
farmer. 


“Any work you are pleased to give us,” replied 
the boys. 

The farmer, who was in need of workers, straight- 
way engaged them and promised to pay them well. 
He led the boys to the cowshed and turning to Maguni, 
he said, “All my cows have been taken out for grazing, 
except the one there in the corner. I want you to be 
in charge of this cow and take out it to graze every 
morning and bring it back in the evening. Can 
you do this?” 



THE TWO FRIENDS 


113 


Maguni proudly answered, “Sir, I have sometimes 
looked after my father’s cows and to manage a single 
cow is nothing for me.” 

Then the farmer led Gokuli to his garden and 
pointing at a mango tree, said, “I want you to water 
this tree. It should be so well-watered that the ground 
around the tree should always remain damp.” 

Gokuli smiled and said, “Watering a^ single tree 
is only child’s play. I can do it very easily.” 

The next morning, the two boys started olf for 
the day’s work. Maguni went to the cowshed Mid 
loosed the cow expecting for himself an easy day and 
a long mid-day nap. Little did he know what troubles 
awaited him, for the cow was an unmanageable one 
and was a problem to its owner. Therefore, great 
was his surpise when the cow darted off like an arrow 
the moment it was let loose. Maguni ran after it 
with all his might. Soon, the cow jumped over a 
fence and trampled the young cucumber plants. 
The owner, seeing this, came out of his house. Angrily, 
lie looked at Maguni and threatened to beat him. 

The next moment the cow ran off to a banana 
orchard and pulling at the leaves, destroyed a number 
of plants. The gardener came running with a big 
stick and chased both the cow and Maguni. It is 
not easy to say whether the cow or Maguni ran faster. 

But, Maguni’s sorrows were not ended. The 
cow went to a paddy field. The watchman threw 
stones at the cow and abused Maguni calling him 
names. 

Finally, late in the evening, with tired limbs and 
bruises all over his body, Maguni with difficulty 
managed to return with the cow. He was angry 



114 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


with the cow, angry with himself and angry with the 
whole world. 

‘I am the unlucky one,’ he said to himself. 
‘Gokuli must have had a grand and easy time resting 
in the shade of the mango tree.’ An idea struck him. 
‘I will change places with Gokuli tomorrow. I will 
not tell him the nature of this wretched cow. I’ll 
give him a happy picture of this day. Surely, he will 
agree to take on this job tomorrow,’ thought Maguni. 

Poor Gokuli ! From the deep well, he pulled 
water in a heavy brass pot and poured it at the foot 

of the mango tree. Once, twice, thrice ten 

times, but with no result. The tree did not look 
sufficiently watered. More and more water he poured, 
but in vain. The thick coir rope with which he drew 
water, hurt his palms. As he continued pulling 
potful after potful of water, blisters formed in his 
palms. The pain was intense, but how could he stop 
without finishing his job? Wearied beyond measure, 
his arms aching with pain and with blistered hands, 
Gokuli returned in the evening. 

But, Gokuli was not behind Maguni in craftiness. 
‘I must get this job changed,’ he said to himself. ‘I’ll 
tell Maguni what an easy time I had. How in a short 
while, I watered the tree and had a long nap in the 
afternoon.’ 

Thus, the two friends met, each with his own 
secret plan. First, Maguni gave a rosy picture of the 
great time he had with only one cow to look after. 
“Listen Gokuli, I’ll take a charpoy 1 tomorrow and 
enjoy my mid day nap like a prince.’’ 


J. Light bedstead used in India, 



THE TWO FRIENDS 


115 


Secretly, Gokuli envied Maguni’s happy lot, but 
consoled himself, ‘I’ll sleep on that charpoy tomorrow 
and not Maguni!’ 

With glowing words, Gokuli described his own 
happiness. “What a grand time I had today,” he 
said, “with nothing to do. Now, tell me Maguni, 
how long does it take to water a single mango tree? 
I poured three potfuls of water and had all the time 
to myself. Now I wish you could enjoy it too!” 

“Wonderful. Let’s change places tomorrow,” 
suggested Maguni. 

Needless to say that the crafty plans of the two 
friends were put into action the next day. When 
morning came, with a cheerful heart, Gokuli started 
off with the charpoy on his head. But the moment he 
untied the cow, the inevitable happened. Frantically, 
he ran with the charpoy on his head. Running behind 
such a cow was bad enough, but with the load of the 
charpoy it was still worse. With the cow fleeing 
before and the foul abuses behind, Gokuli ran all the 
day from orchard to field and field to orchard. He 
was a picture of misery. 

Of course, Maguni fared as miserably as Gokuli, 
doing the impossible task of watering the mango 
tree. 


When they returned in the evening, each was 
angry with the other. But was it not true that each 
one had deceived the other? Realizing this, they 
promptly forgave each other and became friends once 
again. Then their fertile brains worked out their 
future plans. 

“Well, Maguni,” said Gokuli, “I think there 
is a pit near the mango tree. I suspect some treasure 



116 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


hidden in that pit. Let us dig under the tree and if 
1 am correct, then our future is made.” 

In the night, after everyone was asleep, the 
lads went to the garden and started digging under the 
mango tree. Gokuli dug and Maguni took out the 
earth and put it away. Soon they made a wide and 
deep hole. Then suddenly, Gokuli’s spade hit some- 
thing hard. T think, I have hit the treasure pot,’ 
thought Gokuli. ‘If 1 hand over the pot to Maguni, 
he may run away with it, leaving me in this pit.’ 

“Will you come down and dig, Maguni? 1 
am too tired to dig any more,” said Gokuli. 

Maguni, at once, jumped into the pit and lifted 
Gokuli up. As Gokuli had planned, Maguni 
dug out the pot and handed it to him from below. 
Quietly, Gokuli walked away from that place and 
started running with the treasure. 




A 


THE TWO FRIENDS 


117 


Poor Maguni called him from the pit, but there 
was no response. He could not even shout lest the 
farmer and his men should wake up. With great 
difficulty, Maguni crawled out of the pit and stood 
alone near the mango tree with only darkness around 
him. Where was his friend? Where had he gone 
with the treasure? Suspicion and anger worked in 
his mind and he ran in search of Gokuli. After a 
while, Maguni found Gokuli, but as both were rogues 
and the fact well-known to each of them, they quickly 
decided to let bygones be bygones. 

Together, they sat by the side r i a well to divide 
the treasure. The well was an old one and lay unused 
for years. Even two neem trees had grown inside ii. 
Maguni thought if somehow Gokuli were got ri : of, 
all the treasure would be his. No sooner did this 
thought enter his mind than he planned to get rid 
of the other. 

“Gokuli,” he said, “I wonder if there is water 
in the well. It looks so old and unused.” 

Saying that there might be water, Gokuli leaned 
to look into the well, when Maguni gave him a push 
from behind. Down went Gokuli headlong into the 
well and sure death would have been his fate had 
he not been luckily caught in the strong roots of one 
of the small neem trees inside the well. There he 
was stuck up and thus escaped death. The wicked 
Maguni merrily walked away with the treasure. 

At midday, two witches came to the well and 
sat unseen on the other neem tree. They were sisters. 
They soon started a conversation. 

“What is all the news,” asked the younger witch. 

“News! I am full of happiness. Have you ever 
seen the beautiful daughter of the Raja? Her life is 



118 


FOLK TALES OF ORISSA 


in my hands now. I have afflicted her with ap incur- 
able sickness. The Raja hopes that his daughter would 
recover. He has engaged the best physicians of the 
land. But the girl is doomed. She is sinking day by 
day and in three days time, she will be dead.” 

“What?” queried her sister. “Do you mean to 
say that in this wide world, there is no remedy for her 
sickness? What is this strange disease?” 

“]’ alone, know the cure,” replied the elder witch. 
“The remedy is very simple, but the Raja’s foolish 
physicians do not know it. Only three leaves from 
one of these neem trees can work the miracle. The 
girl has to only smell the leaves.” 

Gokuli listened attentively. He was excited. 
He was happy beyond measure that he could do what 
even the Raja’s physicians could not. When evening 
came and the witches left the place, with great effort, 
Gokuli crawled out of the well. With three neem 
leaves in his hand, he forthwith made for the Raja’s 
place and boldly announced that he could cure the 
princess. 

The Raja, who had tried all remedies in vain, 
gladly allowed Gokuli to treat the princess. The 
princess got well after Gokuli’s magic treatment. 
There was great festivity in the palace. The Raja 
was beside himself with joy. Gokuli was young and 
good-looking and the Raja decided to give the hand 
of his daughter in marriage to him. A week after the 
recovery of the princess, the wedding was celebrated 
with great pomp. Gokuli became the Raja’s son-in- 
law. A grand palace was built for him and the princess, 
where they lived happily. 

In the meantime, Maguni, who had run away 
with the treasure, had prospered much by investing 



THE TWO FRIENDS 


119 


it in business. His boats carried merchandise to 
distant lands across the seas. 

Once, Maguni was shipwrecked near a seacoast 
and was cast ashore. Not far from where he 
lay unconscious, stood Gokuli’s palace. The news of 
a man lying unconscious on the seashore, was brought 
to Gokuli by servants. Hastily, Gokuli came to the 
seashore and whom would he meet but his old friend 
and childhood companion, Maguni! The sight of his 
friend melted Gokuli’s heart and this time with sincere 
affection, he welcomed Maguni to his home. Misfortune 
and suffering had chastened Maguni’s heart and he had 
understood that evil doesn’t work and its fruits ire 
always bitter. Thus the two friends were <uly 
reconciled this time and lived together. 

Often, their talks would reach the midnight hour, 
when the two sat together and recalled old memories. 
At last they realized the value of sincerity and truth 
in life. 


Mt 



BIBLIOGRAPHY 


1. Lokagalpa Sanchayana by Dr. Kunja Behari 
Das. 

2. Utkala Kahani by Sri Gopal Chandra 
Praharaj. 

3. Ama Odissa Kntha by Sri Sridhara Das.